Meraki started out with its pilot project, Roofnet, aimed to bring wireless connectivity to the city of Cambridge. It shot to fame pretty quickly and was acquired by Cisco Systems under Cisco’s Cloud Networking Group (CNG)  in 2012. Cisco Meraki offers solutions like switching security and security cameras, wireless devices, and mobility management services. Their elaborate range of products includes WLAN, Meraki Insight, Wireless WAN, Security and SD-WAN,  Smart Cameras, Endpoint Management, and more. Their product range is available to everyone from small businesses to global enterprises.

What makes Meraki hardware better?

Meraki provides a diverse range of products associated with one another, making your network more secure with every addition. Meraki provides best in class solutions, owing it all to their hardware. Let’s look into some of the factors that make Cisco Meraki unparalleled: 

  • Meraki Dashboard- A centralized tool for overall control, monitoring, and configuration. 
  • Cisco Meraki reduces the cost of on-site wireless controllers, cloud-based RF optimization, zero-touch access provisioning, and more with their MR Product line.
  • The MX Product line provides routing, switching, security, remote access, and even wireless capabilities. 
  • Meraki provides switches with features of cloud-managed architecture, allowing you to configure anything from a single port to thousands of ports. 
  • Cisco Meraki offers simple tools with powerful control.
  • Their smart cameras boast features like centralized cloud management, edge storage up to 512GB, motion-based retention for customizing video storage plans, machine learning capabilities, motion search, granular access controls, firmware updates and bug fixes at no additional cost. 
  • Meraki products can be deployed remotely in minutes. 
  • Facility to Pre-enroll devices and add users as per joining with their Systems Manager. 
  • Encourages a secure BYOD environment. 

How the cloud management console works, and why it’s great

Cisco Meraki’s cloud management provides centralized control over Meraki’s networking hardware, without the additional cost of wireless controllers. It has the capability to streamline a large network consisting of thousands of endpoints, and automated network monitoring and alerts. It can be deployed easily without training or technical staff. 

Every Meraki device is connected over the internet to its data centers, which run its cloud management platform. These connections are secured by SSL and a patented protocol that provides real-time visibility and control without using much bandwidth. All devices are designed to perform packet processing and no network passes through the cloud without cloud providing management functionality out of the data path. The cloud architecture gains the edge for:

  • Optimum configuration- Cloning configuration was never this easy. Meraki helps maintain consistency within your network by making it easier for organizations to expand without worrying about their set up requirements. 
  • Firmware upgrading- It offers automatic upgrades that can be pre-scheduled in accordance with the organization’s needs. For instance, scheduling a maintenance window for 4:00 AM on Sunday will have the new software or improvement installed automatically. 
  • Traffic visibility- It allows users to filter or report traffic on their network based on domain names. It also lets you block or limit its speed. 
  • Virtual Stacking- Meraki’s cloud architecture rapidly reduces configuration effort by virtually stacking all switch ports as if it were one. MS series switches do not even require a physical connection regardless of their location. They can be on different sides of the world and still have unprecedented visibility and manageability. 
  • Topology mapping- Network topology automatically maps network architectures including redundant links to prevent data loops. MS, MR, and MX devices are marked differently for easy classification. It provides an easy search network by name, tag, or device type to see how equipment is deployed. It also showcases devices in trouble and indicates problems with either yellow or red color. These devices can then be clicked into immediately for remote diagnosis and troubleshooting. 

How the pricing works, with hardware and licensing costs?

Meraki offers two types of licensing models- 

  • Per-Device Licensing (PDL)-  This model is suitable for consumers of all scales, and brings in various features. PDL lets you allocate a license to a specific device from any range ( be it MR, MS, MX etc.) or any network and maintain a common expiry date or separate expiry date across all devices. You can also renew all your devices or a few selected ones as per your preference. Licenses are movable between organizations, and a buffer period of 90 days is given to claim and assign licenses before activation. APIs are available to claim, assign, and move licenses for better integration of systems and Meraki will only shut down devices or products with expired licenses after a 30-day grace period. Meraki Wireless + Umbrella is available with this licensing model. Licenses are available for 1 day, 1,3,5,7, and 10 years. 
  • Co-Term Licensing- This is only applicable on an organization basis and will have the same expiration date for every product and device. The date is calculated based on the weighted average of the license types purchased and claimed into your dashboard. The single expiration date is dynamically re-calculated with each license and hardware claim. Licenses are available for 1,3,5,7, and 10 years. Wireless + Umbrella is not available for this licensing model. 

Their hardware products come in diverse ranges-

  • MR- MR products range from Basic Coverage- $299/AP to Highest Performance- $2,249/AP. The licensing cost for the range is $150/AP for 1 year, $300/AP for 3 years, $450/AP for 5 years. 
  • MX- MX products range from $495 to $19,995. The licensing cost for this range varies from product to product. 
  • MS- MS products range from $782 to $22,000. These products are only available for enterprise license and the license costs are determined in accordance with the product. 
  • MV- MV products range from $999 to $2,099. The licensing cost for 1 year is $300/camera, 3 years is $600/camera, 5 years is $900/camera. 
  • SM- Systems Manager is available for $40/device for 1 year, $80/ device for 3 years, and $120/device for 5 years.