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Meraki SD-WAN OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Meraki SD-WAN is #1 ranked solution in top Software Defined Networking. IT Central Station users give Meraki SD-WAN an average rating of 8 out of 10. Meraki SD-WAN is most commonly compared to VMware SD-WAN:Meraki SD-WAN vs VMware SD-WAN. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a comms service provider, accounting for 38% of all views.
What is Meraki SD-WAN?

Software-defined WAN is a new approach to network connectivity that lowers operational costs and improves resource usage for multi-site deployments, allowing network administrators to use bandwidth more efficiently and ensure the highest possible level of performance for critical applications without sacrificing security or data privacy. For more information on deploying and configuring SD-WAN on the Meraki MX Security Appliance, see the Meraki SD-WAN Deployment Guide.

Meraki SD-WAN Buyer's Guide

Download the Meraki SD-WAN Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

Meraki SD-WAN Customers

École Jeannine Manuel

Meraki SD-WAN Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Meraki SD-WAN pricing:
  • "The pricing is fair, but if they can make it less it would be even more attractive."
  • "Any license you buy until January 2021 gets you an extra year for that purchase."
  • "like everything else, it's negotiable."
  • "Meraki solutions come with a choice of several different subscription options including one year, three years, five years, seven years, and ten years."
  • "If you purchase a Meeraki box, you have to purchase a license, and it's already the basic license, you will have you SD-WAN included."

Meraki SD-WAN Reviews

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OA
EMEA Network Operations Team Lead at LafargeHolcim
Real User
Top 20
Ultimate flexibility in this solution lends opportunities for creative problem solving and cost savings

Pros and Cons

  • "This product contributed to a huge benefit in our bottom line on operational costs."
  • "Meraki can react fast to emerging trends."
  • "t is very stable based on our experience and the application performance has been superb."
  • "Tech support is willing to go the extra mile to resolve issues."
  • "The VPN client could be improved."
  • "Meraki could make better use of virtual connect."
  • "Warm spare is a good failover solution but Meraki could do something more to handle failovers better."
  • "The default classes should be expanded."

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use is providing services to clients. I work as a regional team lead for network operations. Part of the responsibilities include looking out for evolving technologies and leverage cost benefits while improving services. Because I overlook 1,600 sites within the organizations spread across 52 countries, we can use that buying power to influence pricing.  

When we started using Meraki in 2016, we were just experimenting. By virtue of the results that we got based on using Meraki — the flexibility coupled with the simplicity at the same time realizing that we would experience significant cost optimization — that made Meraki our option A. In our initial estimation, we were able to reduce about 30% of our recurring costs on one site. Since we decided to go with it, we just rolled out 230 sites to the platform and we have many more sites that are coming on to the platform over the next year.  

In fact, next year we are targeting about 1,000 sites to be on the platform. We started with just three sites as a test in 2016 and today that has grown to 230. It keeps growing because more countries have heard about the cost optimization and they are indicating their interest having heard the result. For instance, Switzerland has been the latest country we converted. We have 65 sites in Switzerland. We started the project in June and we have been able to move 59 of the 65 sites to Meraki as of today. At the end of this month, the entire migration for the whole of Switzerland will be complete. That is 65 sites in just 4 months.  

How has it helped my organization?

Our journey in moving to Meraki is in progress but we expect to experience a huge benefit in the bottom line of operational costs.  

What is most valuable?

Honestly, even just converting the few sites we have migrated so far from the original way we configured them, we have realized a 20% to 30% difference in recurring costs compared to when we were fully on MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching). By the time we move the bulk of our site, the projection is that we might actually be realizing closer to 40% or 50% reduction in operations costs. In this COVID era economy, everyone is looking for cost optimization. That, for us, will be a significant one.  

One of the other good things I see is that Meraki can react fast to emerging trends. For example, we have a VPN. We are looking at most people's workday actually becoming stay-at-home. In two years, maybe the approach of staffing will become increasingly more virtual. That would change a lot of things in the way even use people. With Meraki, we have the availability to support work-from-home in a way that we could not with MPLS.  

What needs improvement?

One thing I would say that could be improved is the VPN client. I noticed that when we use a VPN client we have access to the network where the VPN is hosted. I would like to see the possibility of having the VPN access able to connect to more than one network and to more easily make secure connections from one site to another. If Meraki can work on that, it would be a very good enhancement.  

Another thing that I would like to see Meraki make better use of is virtual connect. Today we have only the virtual MX100. Earlier in the year, because of our joining with the cloud, we had to integrate AWS into Meraki. The limitation has not been so bad to this point. The questions I have arise because our journey to the cloud is not going to end. It is something we are increasing and we have made plans in our roadmap to move more of our applications to the cloud. That means that we have more sites accessing applications via the cloud and it will stress those capabilities. We need to have solutions in place before issues arise.  

If we do not use direct connect, the only other option is to go the Meraki way using BGP (Border Gateway Protocol). There is a limitation in terms of the number of concurrent connections. That would prove to be a challenge if we are only relying on the MX100. There are possibilities that we can exploit using dual MX100s, but the question is still that we have not tested it to know how that really works. We do not know if the simplicity and the optimization that we already have achieved with the physical devices would be maintained. Those are questions we can not really answer right now. But I think it is something that is worth looking into and something we will eventually have to resolve.  

Another thing I also want to mention is the idea of using a warm spare or hot standby for high-availability and failover. It is a good idea to have a warm spare, but I also notice that it may be possible to do something using different switching. We have stacking technology where you can use a stack or you can do virtual switching on the 9500. I am thinking if we have something similar to that applied to create high availability for Meraki, that will go a long way to help solve the potential issue. In the case of the warm spare, If I boot the warm spare this means we have one concentrator that handles the downstream in this case, but then the up-stream is different. There are always issues around that downstream flow because you are going through one single link. But if the two can be virtually connected — just like they are in StackWise Virtual —  then I think it makes the traffic flow easier and it will be handled better.  

It is like ZRP (Zone Routing Protocol). ZRP has some issues too because it introduces another layer of complexity in the fact that you have to be sensing the heartbeats between the two different Meraki devices via another switch. In my opinion that makes it a bit unstable. If we can have something more like the StackWise Virtual approach to add availability on the physical Meraki device, that is the way to go in my opinion. It is a good thing that you can share a single license over the two devices, so it is walking in the right direction in that regard.  

One other feature that probably can be added might be on the Meraki switches. We have Meraki switches working with the MX100. I know that the access key on MX switches is more-or-less like other switches, but it is not as flexible as what we had when we are using the local traditional packet switches.  

Then there is also, the handling of the spanning tree. With some configuration, the traditional switches can be made to handle some things that I have not seen the Meraki switches capable of handling. So they might also want to introduce EtherChannel on Meraki switches to improve those capabilities. But these are a lot of things that are somewhat peripheral to the SD-WAN itself.  

On SD-WAN specifically, I can see that we have a default class for voice. I think that maybe that can be expanded to take care of more classes. I know the service class is defined, but if it can be expanded, then we can be more confident in providing voice services. One of the concerns has always been the performance of the voice services we can provide. From the experience I have in testing so far, if you have a good link, there may not really be a cause for concern in delivery. At the end of the day, the voice traffic is not impacted because of that good link. A major concern in our case now has been when we have a local voice solution that only sites within the country access. Providing reliable service might be an issue because of the latency.  

Voice services depend on UDP (User Datagram Protocol). If voice services depend on UDP and then traffic goes beyond the threshold, packages can drop beyond a particular latency and the services are not able to retransmit. So the package drops. What I am looking for is adding some additional classes of services that can help with this issue of dropping packets. I think that is one other thing that Meraki can be looking into.  

There have been issues around NAT-Unfriendly (Network Address Translation) situations. I know there is a technical explanation for that. In some cases, it is a little bit sad that you have to use manual NAT instead of using automatic channels. The manual process has its own cons as well. Even though it is easy, there may be something that can be done to work with automatic channeling. For instance, today there are quite a number of sites that are on 4G and are working perfectly well with Meraki. When we have sites in countries that have 4G that want to move to Meraki we have to tell them to find out from their provider to make sure that they are not using APM (Application Performance Management). If they are, it will always generate NAT-Unfriendly behaviors. Meraki solutions should work to resolve this issue for those who have to use G4.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Meraki SD-WAN for four years now, starting in 2016.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable based on our experience and the application performance has been superb. It is much better compared to what we had before when we were using MPLS. The fact is that this solution introduces quite a lot of flexibility and that it is SSO (Single Sign-On) adaptable is helpful. At the same time, we have good scalability. Those are major benefits for us.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have a complicated application landscape where we have quite a number of applications that are either hosted locally, hosted regionally, or also hosted in the cloud. Navigating this landscape while on MPLS was quite challenging. With the SD-WAN it is quite simple. The integration has been quite flexible as well. One of the good things that we have seen about this solution is that SD-WAN is able to talk to sites on MPLS and vice versa. That has really helped in terms of migration. It has really been a wonderful story all along the way.  

The organization I work for is in about 90 countries and then of course we have plants that are very big in some cases. We have about 1000 users in one location. In some cases, we have around 500 users. In some countries, we have only four or five plants; in some other countries, there are eighty plants all with varying numbers of users. The Meraki product can be scaled to fit all these needs.  

At one of the biggest plants we had to deploy, we had to use an MX100 in that location. That is because we were going to make it a hub as well. Being a hub, all the locations within that country were also going to be connecting to it. In our deployment approach, we have to consider whether they have local traffic and locally-used data application services. When that is the case we set up a local hub in the country to reduce latency. This is so that applications that are susceptible to latency are able to perform optimally. Then we have applications where we have specifications that require hosting them at the global business center at the central concentrated hub which is in Paris. We have to have a flexible solution to meet all of these needs.  

A good thing with Meraki is that it uses Auto VPN technology. It is not a case where the connection is moving from hub to hub, it a case of having a kind of a cloud where each hub participates and can push traffic dynamically. What I see in Auto VPN is like a Layer 3 MPLS. The difference is that MPLS uses switches where the Auto VPN simply has a concentrated hub. We can let the VPN registry handle that connection centrally. It can be an advantage when you do not have to change connections from one hub to the other. In some cases, we use the MX-67 in plants depending on what needs they have for availability and capacity needs.  

Optel was recently still using an MX100 as a central concentrated hub. When we looked at trying to be proactive and doing capacity planning, we decided to add capacity in anticipation of additional sites that will be added. To increase the capacity of the device at the central hub we just bought an MX450 that we are going to use to replace the MX100. We also upgraded our link. Initially, the uplink was 100 megs. Now we have moved to one gig just in anticipation of other sites that will be added. That type of capacity scaling is fairly easy.   

I have a team that has about nine engineers covering about two countries. With them, we try to do as much automation as possible because the size of the group is really too small to service the number of sites that they are responsible for. However, we have been able to manage quite a lot of automation because we have Meraki to help manage that.  

The same site is also responsible for voice services and they are responsible for the LAN, in each of those locations. We are also responsible for the WAN services which are used exclusively for the firewall and the security services.  

There and some other technologies like joining the cloud and moving some things to AWS. That is one of the things we try to do to leverage our automation. For instance, on Meraki, upgrades have to be applied from time to time. Up to now, we have tried to work that on a particular schedule. But even in scheduling, you discover that the time updates need to occur varies because not all locations are within the same time zone.  

What we have tried to do is work with some API scripting using Assertible and Postman to look at how to automate some processes like applying those software updates automatically. We also notice that from time-to-time when new projects come in there is a need for us to update the firewall rules on each of the Meraki devices. This is really a very tedious manual process. To resolve this we now put a new kind of scripting in place so that we can just specify the rules that we want to create and that can be applied across all the devices on the dashboard. This scales the capabilities of what Meraki can carry out.  

I noticed that recently there was a new feature that was added called Network Object. I have ideas about what I think it should be able to do, but I have not explored it yet. It is still something that will be tested out and I will see. But new features are also coming out all the time that scale the way we are able to use the product.  

How are customer service and technical support?

We do contact technical support a lot. One of the things we make a habit of doing is to contact Meraki support when we have any doubt about the steps we need to take. For instance, in the beginning, when we started out with a COL (Combined Licensing) licensing model, we might have situations where some operations would feel cheated if they licensed a device with a five-year license contract. They might check the dashboard and they would realize that they only had four years and maybe two months. Of course, questions arose when they paid for five years and saw they only got four years two months.  

That was a really tough one because we noticed that even after we migrated there were a lot of issues in terms of some device licensing. We had to work with the support team a lot to be able to have that resolved. When those licenses were finally recovered we had to go on our own, one by one, to match the reconciled license with devices so we can a reconciliation across the board.  

We have used support when we were trying to do upgrades and we ran into some challenges. I recall there was a case in Qatar where all the sites went down because someone mistakenly changed something about the licensing. Everything just went off straight-away. We raised a case to support and it was over the weekend. They just picked up the phone and someone at Meraki picked it up and worked throughout the whole of that Saturday. By evening all the sites were back. It was good because Sunday is a working day in Qatar. The issue resolved on Saturday and by Sunday morning everyone was able to get to work and they were happy. Tech support is willing to go the extra mile to resolve issues.  

How was the initial setup?

The difficulty level of the initial setup actually depends on the site. In most cases, the level of difficulty is not really an issue with Meraki. The issue is the local LAN where you are trying to integrate Meraki. For instance, there are some cases where we had to do some LAN cleanup before Meraki could be integrated. But when the LAN is in good, clean condition with a proper hierarchical work structure, within a matter of a maximum of 45 minutes or an hour, we are done. If the LAN is not structured, we can be on it for days.  

One time, we had to do a migration in Cameroon that was very difficult. We had to go back several times until we realized that their LAN was really in a bad shape and it was causing other issues that we did not anticipate. We agreed the best thing we could do was to revamp the LAN before we tried the migration again. It was not only a case of having to redesign the LAN. There were many VLANs that were also not configured properly. The whole site installation was just a kind of lopsided. We had to spend quite a bit of time to do a proper cleanup and create a proper hierarchical structure for the LAN before we could even attempt to integrate Meraki. Eventually, we were able to successfully integrate. Without these kinds of issues and where the LAN is well structured, within forty-five minutes we are out of the place.  

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I can say that the pricing is fair, but if they can make it less it would be even more attractive.  

I think Meraki is also doing something good with their pricing in the sense that any license you buy until January 2021 gets you an extra year for that purchase. So if you buy a five-year license now, you actually get six years. The customers always want more when it comes to savings and Meraki is recognizing that.  

What other advice do I have?

When looking at this type of solution, there are several things to consider that are useful to know before you begin your research.  

One: you have to have an understanding of the existing network. That is crucial. If you do not understand the existing structure of the network, it will be difficult to be able to adapt it. If you are planning to move into an SD-WAN, you want to look at replicating the existing network structure. So, the first thing is how flexible the solution is in being able to adapt to your existing architecture.  

Secondly: you have to look at how simple it is going to be to manage. The GUI interface of the product that you choose should be well-designed so that it makes the product easy-to-use.   

Third: you will want to look at and be aware of the redundancy features that are available. If you are considering switching to an SD-WAN, one of the key things you need to look and have a solution for is what will happen in the event of a failure. You need to know how the system will handle it.  

Fourth: you have to know the physical devices that will be in those locations converting to SD-WAN and how resilient they are. The type of routing protocols that are supported is very important. If the kind of routing protocol is not properly supported or if they are proprietary then it becomes a big issue.  

Fifth: you also want to consider the manufacturing company and its product support. The support has to be very solid. If the support is not solid, then you might run into quite a number of issues. The more you engage the support, the better because they can grow their knowledge base and you can learn. Of course, a good thing about Meraki is that the support is solid. I can say that because we have had quite a number of issues and support has been able to rise up to the occasion each time. Also part of support is the documentation for use. This is also key because there will be instances that you have to go and look into the documentation to check on how to do things properly. You want to have a good resource where you can read up on some stuff and then be able to apply what you read so that it is not always necessary to look to support for help.  

Any time of the day, I will recommend this product. It is quite flexible. We have been able to put it to the test because we have a very complex network environment considering the number of sites. I mentioned I have 1,600 sites and globally we have 3,625 sites. Some applications are hosted centrally in the global data center and there are also layers upon layers of applications that are used in different countries based on the different business requirements and environments. Meraki has helped us to handle this efficiently.  

With Meraki, we have been able to simplify so many of those situations. For example, we have some locally hosted applications in some of the countries that require an IPSec (Internet Protocol Security) VPN tunnel for access. Without Meraki, it requires some third-party access or interaction with the locally hosted application. With Meraki, we can get away from this issue.  

Before using SD-WAN, we had to have too many hubs. This was the case whether the location was the global data center or a regional one. At some point, we ran out of public address space. With Meraki coming in, we have been able to sort that out. This is because we can do many-to-one mapping even if we have several applications hosted there. So with a many-to-one map, you can have as many services as you need of that one application on the same platform. The only distinguishing part will be the port you are communicating with and the remote IP.  

Using Meraki just solves a lot of problems. There was one problem we were having that we had to send to our solutions team. There was a lot of back and forth on details. Then while we were waiting someone on our team suggested that we could just use Meraki for resolving the issue. There is a Layer 7 feature that was able to help create the solution. So we used that and it was resolved. The solutions team came back again asking about the status of the issue and we just said that we had moved on because the problem was resolved. They were curious as to how we resolved the issue. We told them that we just used Meraki. They wanted to be sure that it was secure. Because of the way we implemented it, it was very secure.  

If I am going to look at the biggest lesson I have learned from using Meraki SD-WAN it is that you have to have an open mind as to what the product can achieve. Always believe in possibilities. Today, it is like a mantra that is being used across the organization.

I recall when we started four years ago, no one was actually interested in what we were doing with Meraki. Then we encountered an issue that we needed to look into finding a solution for. The issue was that we did not want to start increasing bandwidth because increasing bandwidth on MPLS is crazy. You have to pay through the nose. We knew that there was going to be more demand from business operations because at that time we were planning to deploy SAP (Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing). There were also some demands from business operations that even the technical team at SAP said were not possible to achieve.  

I recall a meeting with my manager who told me that he brought me on to the team to look for and find a solution to the issue. He told me that even SAP said it was not possible to resolve. It appeared that it was a dead-end, but it was not really a dead end. It was an opportunity to bring on something new as a solution. People on the team were not sure whether we were going to be able to make it work. But somebody had to sit with it and try solutions to figure out a way to make it work.  

The first six months were not a lot of fun. We were trying quite a number of different things and nothing was resolving the issue. But gradually we were gaining a better understanding of the technology and how it works. We learned more about what we could do to make potential solutions fit better with the existing structure that we had.  

That type of exploration is key to understanding the way the platform works and how you can apply solutions to your existing environment. I tell people now that it is not just about deploying a network. It is about understanding the technology you are trying to introduce so you can see how it can add value to the existing environment. That way, as we invest in potential solutions we are not wasting any money. We are actually getting value for any investment in technology and platforms because they may provide a solution or a unique capability now or in the future.  

For me, finding a solution is about having an open mind. You have to say to yourself that nothing is impossible. Of course, there is the tenacity that you have to have in trying to create the solutions. If that is not there, the effort at resolving an issue is just smoke. It may take some weeks to create some solutions. But the good is that you find it is possible to learn new ways to solve problems. When you get that solution, you have learned something. If your effort brings about a solution or not, you have learned. When it brings about a solution, you are just glad that you could resolve the issue. Then you move on to the next problem.  

On a scale from one to ten (where one is the worst and ten is the best), I would rate Meraki SD-WAN so far as an eight-out-of-ten. I say that I rate it as an eight because there is room for improvement. There will be a time in the future where Meraki will have to face emerging technologies and find solutions to integrating with that technology. They may also have to find solutions to things that come up and meeting new needs that arise.  

Before now Meraki had OSPF (Open Shortest Path First). Today we have BGP. When BGP was first introduced to me, I tried it out and it obviously had some instability. Because of that, we have not ended up deploying the use of it widely. But a problem came up in a meeting after I was first working with it and I said "BGP is back." I was joking, but also thought there might be a possibility it could resolve the issue. One of my senior colleagues said that we were not ready to go back to trying to work with that yet. I was joking but it is always good to have an open mind to ways you might resolve an issue. Some day in the future a tool that did not work for one thing might work for another.  

So I would rate Meraki SD-WAN as an eight because there is still room for feature development and facing the future of emerging trends. Technology solutions are coming that will have to be integrated and addressed.  

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
Jóhann G. Thorarensen
IT Manager at a educational organization with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Enables us to get valuable information from the system without having to go into every single device

Pros and Cons

  • "The most interesting feature is the amount of information you can get from overseeing the system from a centralized place."
  • "There could be more options for integration between other devices — sort of being able to more easily make everything integrated in one solution."

What is our primary use case?

I'm using Cisco Meraki, both for the firewall and software-defined network.  

For the time being, we are sort of picking out the best way to use it in terms of the number of licenses and what we actually need to be able to oversee and have control over — what we really need to do. We are still looking at what are the most essential parts and whether we should increase the number of licenses or just to keep what we already have at the moment. We are taking it step-by-step for now.  

What is most valuable?

In terms of the firewall, actually what I found most interesting was that the amount of information you can get from overseeing the system from a centralized place. For example, we know the way people logged in, when they logged out, and how they access work that is on individual computers. It provides a lot of information.  

So, basically the most valuable feature so far is just the information we can actually get from the system without actually having to go into every single device. You can just get it all from one point, gather all the information that would usually take you about up to 10 minutes per computer and get it almost instantly.  

In terms of Software Defined Networking, when our older firewall was used in the setup, it was a very different configuration of various computers. What we actually thought we had was sometimes outdated and possibly not being used at all in one or two cases. Using this product was a chance to find out where actually there are vulnerabilities in our system and which places need to be updated that had not been properly updated because they sort of fell between the cracks.  

What needs improvement?

Because I have not been using the product for very long, I'm really just learning it and being overwhelmed by the amount of information that I can actually get from the system. There is really nothing that I can think of at the moment that needs to be improved. I'm just really happy about basically everything. It might happen that something will become important sometime as we get more used to the product and we are able to look into it better. But for the moment it seems to cover everything we need.  

Possibly there may be more options for integration between computers, projectors, television — sort of being able to more easily make everything included in one solution. It would be even more useful.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the product for more than two months.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Our impressions of the stability of SD-WAN is good at this point. We have had no issues that I know of up until this moment.  Whether we will later on remains uncertain. For now  everything is stable and working well.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the solution does not seem like it will be a problem.  

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not had help directly from Cisco's technical support. We did have help once indirectly through another company that we used to help us to sort out our old system. That was two years ago and I was not personally involved.  

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Actually, I'm only now comparing how this system works to our experience with the old system we used. That is not something I can do instantly. But the reason we chose this solution was to consolidate and make use of improved features.  

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup for the product was straightforward and we had no issues. Our deployment took approximately only about two hours.  

What about the implementation team?

We did use the help of a consultant who knew more about the implementation of the product, but in the end, it really was just writing down which plug went from where to where. That was sort of our biggest issue.  

We were satisfied working with the consultant as they did help the process. In the end, we were sure it was set up correctly.  

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We went to a conference two years ago to start researching another solution like Fortinet  FortiGate. Meraki was the one that seemed to stand out more to me.  

What other advice do I have?

My advice to other people considering this as a solution is that I would probably just recommend them the same server and set up that we have. It sort of depends on what the person or the business needs. There are questions about how much control over it that you want to have, how much you really need to be able to oversee everything, et cetera. In terms of security issues, I think it is wonderful to be able to actually see where the pitfalls of our infrastructure are and stuff like that. But my gut feeling is I think I would probably just recommend the same system as we have.  

But the problem with that is I also don't know how Fortinet works because I haven't tested and implemented it myself. It looked promising when we researched it two years ago. I don't know, maybe it is just as good as Meraki. From what I've seen from comparisons between the two, they seem to be similar in terms of usability and price. I could be mistaken about some of that. But I'm happy with what we have, so I can recommend our system as something that is working for us.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate Meraki SD-WAN, Software Defined Networking as an eight given the fact that I've only been working on it this short of time.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Learn what your peers think about Meraki SD-WAN. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
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AH
Group Network Specialist at a financial services firm with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Easy to manage with zero-touch configuration and good security features

Pros and Cons

  • "I can manage it very well and in a very easy way."
  • "We'd like features that provide more transparency when there are issues. Right now, it's hard to get clarity on problems. We need more visibility."

How has it helped my organization?

There is no comparison with a normal broadband connection versus one that is the dedicated connection that we have. We have saved a lot of money after deploying Cisco Meraki.

What is most valuable?

We have many businesses in geographical locations, and due to this, we need it in many different locations. It has become very easy for us to deploy these products. They claim that it is zero-touch configuration. That is true. Suppose if I want to deploy this product in Manila, I don't have to have this product in my hand in the wire and I don't need to go to Manila. It's not like that.

It can be delivered to them and as soon as they plug it we can push the configuration. That is the beauty of this SD-WAN technology that we have.

The solution is helping me, not only for side-to-side connectivity but also for defining different VLANs, different networks, between the firewalls. I can do firewalling between these networks.

I can manage it very well and in a very easy way. This is from the technical perspective.

After deploying Meraki, we have a drastic fitting on connectivity because before Cisco Meraki, we used to have a physical broadband internet connection and it is very, very expensive in Dubai.

The security firewall features that are embedded in the product is very good. The security, including the internal threat protection, the IPS, or the advanced threat admin, are very good. 

The hardware is okay as compared to any other product.

What needs improvement?

The advanced license is expensive. Part of the cost involved is high. If you are only a small or medium business, it may not be the best option. For branch divisions, yes. This is a very useful product and I don't have any problem with the CAPEX however, I have a problem with the OPEX as the OPEX part of the advanced license is quite expensive. 

We'd like features that provide more transparency when there are issues. Right now, it's hard to get clarity on problems. We need more visibility.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for three years at this point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is quite stable. There aren't bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's scalable.

We might have a plan to extend to maybe a hundred percent more sites within 2021. Hopefully, within this year, we will add almost double the size that we have right now. Currently, we have a total of 1200 employees that will double to 2400 and they each have their own devices. There are other guest users as well. There might be 4000 unique devices that need coverage.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support isn't always ideal. Occasionally, we are unable to understand what is happening. When we escalate the matter, the response that we get from Cisco is not satisfactory as sometimes they are depending on the log, and sometimes they are depending on what is connected to a device, for example, and any cascaded device connected to it. They will say that maybe it is because of the device that it's connected on. They seem to have difficulty pinpointing the issue at hand.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Before using Meraki, we had the 1900 series of Cisco, and before we were using it with a DMVPN. This was the technology that was there before. We've always used Cisco.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. However, it depends on how you are setting it up. There are companies that do a very basic setup, and with a basic setup, anyone can do it. Even if you are not a technical person you can do this. It's very, very easy with zero-touch configuration. 

That said, when it comes to full functionality, in our case, we are completely using all of the features. We're doing integrations and using authentication and group policies and the advanced treatment events, and firewall rules, as well as traffic shipping rules. All of these are different. It's a bit more of a complex process.

We're working with a DNS Umbrella. When it comes to that much functionality, it is not easy, actually. It's not a basic thing. You need some experts to do the installation configuration.

While they've made it pretty user-friendly, they've also made it in such a way that handicaps IT staff. YOu always have to escalate issues to Cisco to get it sorted.

Once you get over the first implementation and move to configuration, it's pretty easy.

YOu only need one person to handle the deployment process.

What about the implementation team?

I tend to handle the implementation and configuration. I'm well-versed in Cisco. I don't need a consultant or integrator to assist me.

What other advice do I have?

We are a customer and end-user.

We have an SD-WAN technology that works on Cisco Meraki with MX appliances. Then we have a core appliance, from Core/Distribution and edge. These are all HP routers.

We are using the latest version of the solution. We get automatic updates to the latest versions.

While the solution is on-premises, it can be managed on the cloud.

I would recommend the solution. I'd rate the solution at an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
DB
Director Of Information Technology at a financial services firm with 11-50 employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Allows you to control and direct traffic flawlessly

Pros and Cons

  • "The advantage you have with Cisco Meraki is that they take a lot of that complexity out of the backend."
  • "There are literally things you cannot do at this point in a graphical user interface that can be done from a command line."

How has it helped my organization?

The advantage of Cisco Meraki is that they take the complexity out of the backend, they do it for you. One of the reasons that we switched to Meraki SD-WAN, was because they have a feature called Auto VPN.

What is most valuable?

I have to keep the operating systems on my switches and routers current and to do that with any other piece of equipment, would literally require me to download the newer operating system. I'd have to get a TFTP server setup to transfer that image over to the appliance. By the time I'd finish, even on the five sites that I have, that's five routers and seven switches.  A combined or aggregated downtime across the sites, potentially of six hours. Whereas now I can schedule the update for the middle of the night or anytime, and it happens on its own.

The portal updates and reboots the device and off it goes. I don't even have to be connected to do it, it just happens. That is of value to me that nobody else is promoting. Between the Auto VPN and the update of the operating systems to keep current, those are the key features.

The network insight and reporting are great.

What needs improvement?

There are literally things you cannot do in a graphical user interface that can be done from a command line. Certain commands that you can issue to any device from a command line are basically explicit; the same as a server or any other IP or any computer-related piece of hardware. If you can get to the command line, you can give it explicit instructions that basically tell it to do something that's hard to describe in a graphical environment. Periodically, there are some issues that you have to figure out how to work around.  That's a very technical thing, most people won't run into it. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Six years.

How are customer service and technical support?

Excellent.

How was the initial setup?


The wide-area network side of the setup was pretty straightforward. I picked up some little details here and there that I wasn't aware of. I had been playing with their equipment for probably a year and a half to two years before I implemented it here. But not for wide-area networking.  With some assistance from Cisco Meraki, as soon as I added appliances, literally within 15 minutes, the site is meshed into the WAN.

Now, since rebuilding the WAN with Cisco Meraki, I keep a cold standby in the closet. All I have to literally do is go to the portal, assign the license to it, and tell it that this is going to replace a defective unit at another site.  I plug that device in, within 15 minutes it will take over. So I'm no longer dependent on an outside resource to get our network up and running again.

That's what's important to me. Is there better equipment out there that can handle more bandwidth and maybe do more things? Yes, but I do not have the bandwidth and may be losing other benefits.

What about the implementation team?

The portal is hosted by Cisco Meraki, it's in their servers someplace. The way routers and firewalls typically are managed, is the way it's been done forever. The way the purists want to do it is via direct access to the unit. Going from unit to unit, configuring and troubleshooting, and doing all the magic. With Meraki, you cannot do an internal configuration from the unit directly. The advantage of this is that the configuration on the device is encrypted. Nobody can walk up to it and reconfigure it. Nobody can gain remote access into it and reconfigure it. So in my mind, the security profile on the unit is actually more secure.

But then, once the unit is installed and assigned to your organization, it's registered in the portal. From there you look at each device and define what it can do, which is the essence of software-defined networking. The portal allows you to configure security, connectivity and filters.  Changes in the portal are communicated to affected devices in a matter of minutes.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I don't know that it's cheaper, but for the Auto VPN and automated updating, it's a time saver for a smaller IT team.

What other advice do I have?

On a scale from one to ten, I would give Meraki SD-WAN a rating of ten — it's been working flawlessly for us.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Spencer Malmad
Owner at Tech Exchange
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Allows you to control how traffic is directed and prioritized across multiple uplinks

Pros and Cons

  • "The seamless end-to-end setup is really what makes it beautiful; that's why Meraki is good."
  • "I think they should enhance the security."

What is our primary use case?

We have multiple ISP's connected, usually it's two. Two ISP's per site and we have to make sure that the site-to-site connectivity is managed and is maintained — the redundancy has to be maintained. 

How has it helped my organization?

The different services that we offer from different offices are available wherever we need them. That's the purpose of going with the Meraki SD-WAN solution versus another company. It's very straightforward. Their full mesh network just works. That's important.

What is most valuable?

The seamless end-to-end setup is really what makes it beautiful; that's why Meraki is good. It's much easier than some of the other vendors to manage and keep track of what's going on because you can see it in real-time on the portal. I don't really feel like VALO Cloud gives you a good idea of what's going on. VALO Cloud devices don't work nearly as well, in my opinion, as the Meraki devices.

What needs improvement?

I think they should enhance the security. I feel like the security is decent, but some other people that I work with say there are better options available. Cisco requires you to upgrade the firmware to custom firmware on the devices you want to go beyond Diffie-Hellman five. DH5 is in the lower part of the spectrum. Other devices, even Cisco devices are using DH15 or higher. I think DH24 is the highest that's currently available. 

The feature set right now requires a firmware upgrade that's custom to enable that kind of encryption. They should just have it in a dropdown. If they could fix that, I could tell my other colleagues, "Hey, look, Cisco can do it right out of the box." To enable higher-end encryption, higher than Diffie-Hellman five, DH5, requires a custom firmware. If they could make that built into the standard firmware as an option, I would love that. 

I think that from Cisco's perspective, they've chosen not to do that simply because it requires more performance.

That's how they keep it because they say, "Oh, look at the performance. It's the same as the other guy." Yeah, but the other guy's using DH15 or DH14 and you're using DH5. The level of encryption means more horsepower required from the processor on the devices so that's why it increases the footprint. The more CPU, the hotter it gets and then it doesn't last as long; the performance is not as good because it's using more resources, etc. Cisco should definitely sell equipment with better processes or better performance for our processes because that would give us a higher level of encryption on our firewalls.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Meraki SD-WAN for roughly four to five years.

How was the initial setup?

The setup time is excellent. The ease of setup is excellent. It's a set it and forget it solution. Once we created the mesh network, if we have to change an ISP, it doesn't mean we have to change an entire configuration. We just unplug it, plug the new one in, change the IPs and it works. Some SD-WAN providers give you a valid internet IP address as part of their solution, and others don't. A lot of the SD-WAN providers that provide internet access use Meraki devices as a black box. They just hand off one interface to the client-side and that's it.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, on a scale from one to ten, I would give Meraki SD-WAN a rating of eight. If they could do better on the performance side, that really would make a difference.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Samuel-Emesoronye
Network Architect at Signal Allinace
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Easy to manage, helps to optimize and prioritize network traffic

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is application performance monitoring and being able to browse packets dynamically based on priorities."
  • "The port density should be improved because this solution is limited to two."

What is our primary use case?

We are a tech services company and the Meraki SD-WAN is one of the solutions that I provide to my customers and have experience with.

How has it helped my organization?

One of my clients was able to optimize their traffic by having the Meraki device direct all of their branch traffic through the DIA (direct internet access), rather than through the WAN. The WAN was corporate-wide, meaning that prior to using this solution, all of the branch traffic had to be routed through there.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is application performance monitoring and being able to browse packets dynamically based on priorities. For instance, I have a customer that has multiple connectivities across five different sites and they wanted to leverage SD-WAN for business and application intelligent routing. They wanted to be able to assign higher priority to packets that originate from mission-critical applications.

What needs improvement?

The port density should be improved because this solution is limited to two. We are getting more and more use cases where clients have more than two internet connections and require more than two ports. There should be three or four ports. It is possible to work around this limitation by using a layer two switch, but it does not provide the same flexibility as the statically assigned port.

The price of this solution is too high for smaller companies in Africa, where it is the enterprises that can afford it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Meraki SD-WAN provides a very stable environment.

For example, when I travel out of my city, I still have remote access to my Meraki device. I can access things like my camera feed, I can see my dashboards, and I can manage users. The connection is almost always on, 24/7, with no downtime. In cases where there is downtime, it is almost always a problem with the provider and not the Meraki device.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support from Meraki is fantastic. I do, however, see a bit of resentment when it comes to trying to integrate Meraki with other products such as Cisco ASA or Fortinet. I can understand it because they probably don't have much experience with the products from other vendors. When it comes to supporting their own product, they do a fantastic job.

How was the initial setup?

This is a very straightforward deployment, especially compared to some of the other solutions that I have worked with.

The length of time required for deployment depends on the level of complexity and the environment. I've had some locations where it has taken three weeks, although two or three days is usually enough, once the design phase is concluded.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Meraki solutions come with a choice of several different subscription options including one year, three years, five years, seven years, and ten years.

What other advice do I have?

Overall, this is a very good solution. I like products where you can deploy them and then go to sleep because they are watertight. It isn't going to give you headaches from support calls at 3:00 AM from a customer saying that the site is down. I definitely recommend that people look at the advantages of Meraki, and in particular, the Meraki SD-WAN because of the access to the cloud management interface.

If you ever had a problem with SD-WAN then you do not have to drive to the corporate head office or use a VPN. You can always access the dashboard from anywhere, as long as you have the required privileges on the portal.

The only complaints I have are about the port density and the pricing. They are doing a fantastic job, although there is always room for improvement.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
BM
CTO Training & Consulting at a educational organization with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Intelligent load balancing that is easy to setup and implement, with good support

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features of this solution are load balancing and the security possibilities you have."
  • "Meraki is more or less intelligent load balancing, although a lot of features are missing that our SD-WAN solutions will have."

What is our primary use case?

It allows us to steer the traffic into two parallel links.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution are load balancing and the security possibilities you have.

What needs improvement?

Meraki is more or less an intelligent load balancing. A lot of features are missing that other SD-WAN solutions have. For example, forward error correction and WAN optimization. These features are missing.

The best thing would be if you could have more than two uplinks in the Meraki Gateways. Also, forward error correction would be nice to have.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Meraki SD-WAN for approximately a year and a half.

We are using the latest version.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We are a small company. We have approximately 120 users.

With Meraki, you have only two WAN links. You cannot have more than that.

You can scale it very easily if you want to have thousands of locations, but in every location or with every Meraki WAN gateway, you can only have two WAN uplinks.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have not contacted technical support, it's always perfect.

Cisco's technical support is very good.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is quite simple.

We are a training company that provides training on Meraki. It's a matter of minutes to implement an SD-WAN router.

We have a team that is responsible for maintaining this solution.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

If you purchase a Meraki gateway, you have to purchase a license. It's a basic license, and you will have SD-WAN included.

When you buy a Meraki gateway, you already have SD-WAN.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When comparing Meraki SD-WAN with other SD-WAN solutions, Meraki is more or less for free. It's an easy to use solution that helps you to do things that you can't do without SD-WAN. 

It is not as advanced as the Cisco SD-WAN solution, or SD-WAN solutions from other vendors.

It does not have a very rich feature set.

What other advice do I have?

For others who are interested in using Meraki SD-WAN, I would suggest that they know the limitations of the two uplinks and that it is not a separate solution. It's included in what you have. You will not have the same dashboard as you would have with the Cisco SD-WAN, or VeloCloud, VersaStack, etc.

For a free solution, I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Other
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Cisco Learning Partner
JG
Field service manager at reduno.com
Real User
Top 20
User-friendly with affordable pricing and good stability

Pros and Cons

  • "We have found the scalability to be good."
  • "We have a lot of problems with distribution. The late deliveries likely have to do with the time it takes for the fabrication of components. It is a principal problem at this moment."

What is our primary use case?

The solution is used principally to have high availability services, high-quality services, and communication with two or more service providers in the same place.

What is most valuable?

The administration in the cloud that Merakioffers is great.

The solution is user-friendly.

Its integrations are good.

We haven't had any issues with customization.

Overall, it's a good product.

The product is easy to deploy.

We have found the scalability to be good.

The solution is stable. 

Pricing is very affordable. 

What needs improvement?

I do need to explore the solution a bit more before really finding fault in anything.

The distribution could be improved. We have a lot of problems with distribution. The late deliveries likely have to do with the time it takes for the fabrication of components. It is a principal problem at this moment.

It would be helpful if there was reporting. I'd like to be able to hand reports related to performance right over to clients. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've used the solution for maybe a year or a year and a half at this point. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Overall, the solution has been stable. It doesn't crash or freeze. There are no bugs or glitches. It's pretty reliable. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our company has many projects that employ Meraki's SD-WAN.

The scalability of the product is quite nice. 

How are customer service and support?

I haven't dealt with technical support. However, MEWraki is pretty simple to use, and therefore, we haven't really needed support from Cisco. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is fairly straightforward. It's not overly complex. 

Deployment would take a week or two at a maximum. It depends on the customer's requirements. 

What about the implementation team?

As a service provider, we install SD-WAN services in the sites of our customers.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is pretty reasonable. 

What other advice do I have?

I'm a Cisco distributor in Mexico. We are a service provider. We install SD-WAN services in the sites of customers.

We have multiple deployments, both on cloud and on-premises. 

I'd recommend the solution. the management is easy and the solution is pretty reasonably priced.

I would rate the solution at a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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