‘Meraki’ may not be the best known name in networking, but their technology is going to touch you soon if it hasn’t already. Meraki was just acquired by Cisco in November for a cool $1.2 billion to incorporate into their new Cloud Networking Group.
Cisco is predicting explosive growth in cloud computing, the practice of running applications and storing data on remote servers accessed over the internet instead of running apps and storing data on your local computer. And increasingly, these cloud services will be accessed with with mobile devices over wireless networks.
What Meraki brings to the table is their cloud managed wireless network infrastructure hardware. The Access Point (AP) is the critical bridge from the wired to the wireless world. The unique feature of the Meraki APs is you plug them into your wired network, the AP connects to the mother ship at Meraki, and you go to meraki.com to configure and manage them via a web UI.
This is a stellar leap from the typically clumsy and slow embedded web interfaces found on most APs, and the emphasis is on managing your wireless network as a whole, not a bunch of individual APs. The web UI is clean and easy to use, the network can be managed from anywhere, and the APs are kept up to date by Meraki with automatic firmware and security updates.
Our architecture philosophy here is to put everything into the cloud that we can, so we adopted Merakis here at LogicMonitor when our wireless network grew beyond the capacity of our original, single AP to take advantage of their cloud managed devices. As we grow, our Meraki network grows with us. When we open a new office, we send along a Meraki AP for someone to plug into the wired network and we configure it from Meraki’s ‘Cloud Controller’ ( the Meraki web UI ), and we incorporate it seamlessly with our existing wireless infrastructure.
Being that we are a cloud-based monitoring provider, we’re of course deeply interested in Meraki monitoring. Meraki provides some basic alerting functionality to warn you if an AP goes off-line, loses its wired connection, has a configuration change or detects a rogue AP in its midst. But LogicMonitor can add additional alerting granularity via extensive SNMP data sources. For example, LogicMonitor could alert if an AP exceeded a given throughput value or client count which could indicate an AP reaching its capacity.
As an added bonus, our Meraki APs appear on the same dashboard as the rest of our infrastructure, along side our routers, switches, load balancers, servers, storage devices, and service monitors for databases, websites and more.
Given the amount Cisco spent on Meraki, it’s probably safe to say that cloud managed network technology is a highly desirable market element set for major growth in the near future. With wireless network management in the cloud, one has to wonder if wired network management is in the near future. Picture Cisco’s IOS webified, and router management leaping from the command line to a web UI.
Steve Francis is an employee at LogicMonitor.
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