Cisco Meraki Platform Review For 2021 (Advantages & Disadvantages)
Managing your network infrastructure is no easy feat, especially when your business has an extensive network of devices to monitor. A cloud network platform allows organizations to manage their network infrastructure through a single pane of glass.
Organizations can use cloud networking solutions such as Cisco Meraki to manage their own on-premises network devices through a centralized dashboard.
LDI’s cloud services division supports customers in assessing what their IT network requires and taking inventory of each asset an organization has.
As a Cisco Select Partner and integrator, LDI recommends Cisco Meraki to clients looking for a streamlined cloud-managed network to maintain and manage their extensive network of devices. However, just because we are partners does not mean we won’t give an honest review of Cisco’s platform.
This article will define Cisco Meraki and detail both the advantages and disadvantages of using the platform. By the end of this article, you will better understand Cisco Meraki’s platform and whether it is suitable for your organization.
What Is Cisco Meraki?
Originally called Meraki, Cisco Meraki is an organization that facilitates and maintains an extensive cloud computing network.
Businesses can successfully manage and operate an entire network of devices through a simple user interface through the Cisco Meraki platform.
For example, suppose you’re an elementary school that owns a lot of network devices such as several laptops and whiteboards for teachers to use, a security camera system to monitor the school’s activity, and a wide range of tablets for each student to take notes and complete assignments.
In that case, Cisco Meraki’s cloud-based platform can view, manage, and maintain every device on your network. You’ll be able to get a first-hand view of where each device is, how it’s operating, and most importantly, you’ll be able to monitor suspicious activity from trying to access your network.
To better understand Cisco Meraki’s mission, let’s dive into how Meraki first came to be.
Meraki was created from a project entitled Roofnet. This project was created to facilitate wireless internet to the entire city of Cambridge. By utilizing the properties of a radio wave to augment main signals, Meraki was able to accomplish that goal.
After Roofnet’s success, Meraki developed other projects to bring free internet services to cities. In 2012, Meraki was eventually acquired by Cisco Systems and formally rebranded as Cisco Meraki.
Since then, Cisco Meraki has provided cloud computing services to organizations, enterprises, and various industries like education and healthcare.
What Are The Advantages OfCisco Meraki?
There are several advantages to choosing Cisco Meraki’s cloud platform. All in all, they offer a comprehensive cloud solution that provides your network with ease of use and flexibility.
Let’s dive into four advantages of using Cisco Meraki.
1. User-Friendly Dashboard Web Interface
So you have several devices to control but no way to streamline the process?
Cisco Meraki’s dashboard is convenient and user-friendly.
Users can control every device on their network from a single interface.
One can use this dashboard to control a worldwide network by way of managing the network devices and user interactions.
Through Cisco Meraki’s dashboard, a user can control everything from signal routing, security, access points to other important aspects within an IT environment.
Let’s try and break it down a bit further. An access point is an endpoint or device connected to a wifi connection. If an authorized user wants to take four devices off the network, the user can use the dashboard to use the dashboard, go to that access point channel and remove it from their IT network.
The ease of use with Cisco Meraki’s platform is intuitive enough for an IT beginner or expert to operate.
2. Simple Deployment
Getting Cisco Meraki’s platform up and running only takes roughly three to five minutes to install.
While Cisco Meraki’s product line is extensive, each product would come programmed with the latest software and updates.
This makes it easy for a user to plug in the device and start using it almost immediately.
Users can deploy, track, and configure their Meraki devices or non-Meraki devices via the Cisco Meraki dashboard we interface or even through APIs.
3. No Additional Maintenance Required
The parent company of Meraki, aka Cisco Systems, fully maintains all of the updates and maintenance for their clients.
This means that there is no additional maintenance apart from occasionally following the prompt on the dashboard to update the platform manually.
Cisco Meraki rolls out regular updates to stay up-to-date and secure with the latest firmware and security patches.
Cisco Meraki’s cloud platform is managed at all times. It includes security monitoring to ensure that all access points are secure and not allow unauthorized personnel to be on the network.
4. Cloud-Storage Capacity Is Scalable
Cloud scalability is significant when working within a cloud-based platform.
Ideally, when you choose to implement a cloud-managed network, you want to make sure it’s scalable. The reason?
Well, the size of your network should fit the needs of your business. A network’s scope can be defined by the number of devices connected to your system at a given time.
Additionally, the size of the network is the amount of data it can store and handle.
Without modular storage capacity that can be scaled up or down to support the number of network devices your business owns, your network would not be able to operate that many devices.
The Cisco Meraki platform is scalable and can fit the needs of businesses of all sizes. It can suit both small and large-scale operations and should operate equally for both.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Using This Platform?
With the many advantages of Cisco Meraki’s platform also comes a few disadvantages.
If your organization is considering Cisco Meraki for your IT network, keep these two disadvantages in mind:
1. No Patch Management Features
As stated above, Cisco Meraki does not require additional maintenance. That being said, there are not any particular features within the platform to measure the level of patches on your network.
Aside from manually pushing updates each time one arises, the platform does not provide detailed information regarding the implemented patches.
So let’s say you want to check which patches were implemented during the last update. There is no feature on the dashboard to check on that information.
2. Cost Is Expensive For Small Businesses
Aside from fluctuating licensing costs, the cost of Cisco Meraki can be a deterrent for many small businesses that want their cloud-managed platform.
To use Cisco Meraki’s platform, one must consider either a yearly licensing subscription or a contract for a multiple-year subscription.
For example, if your business is interested in a yearly subscription, they’d be looking at a price range of $203.99 to $275.00. For a seven-year subscription, the cost for a license to use the platform can range from $600.00 to $635.00.
The cost of a Cisco Meraki license does not include the cost of individual Meraki network devices and software, so those sell separately.
Is Cisco Meraki Right For Your Business?
Cisco Meraki is a great cloud networking platform for, medium to large businesses and educational institutions that have limited IT staff to manage their on-premises infrastructure ranging from switches to APs to security cameras through a single user-friendly cloud dashboard.
However, is Cisco Meraki right for a small business with only twenty desktops, two APs, one switch, and one internet router/security device? Based on the needs of the business and IT Staff, probably not.
Cisco Meraki is ideal for an organization with many network devices to control and manage at one network location or across multiple locations.
At LDI, we recommend cloud-managed network solutions to clients interested in secure and scalable IT environment management.
Learn more about cloud-based solutions by reading our article on developing an effective cloud migration strategy.