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Meraki SD-WAN Room for Improvement

EMEA Network Operations Team Lead at LafargeHolcim

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.  

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Senior Product Manager at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees

From the vice perspective, they just are not as robust as some of the other vendors. They have limitations in throughput and the number of circuits that they can support on a wide area network. Their higher-end security is all cloud-based. They have some capability with the premise-based solutions, but the higher ends are all cloud-based, and that's via Cisco Umbrella.

Their support can be better. They do not offer a lot of hands-on support for their products.

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Group Network Specialist at a financial services firm with 5,001-10,000 employees

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.

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Learn what your peers think about Meraki SD-WAN. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: January 2022.
564,599 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Director Of Information Technology at a financial services firm with 11-50 employees

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. 

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Owner at Tech Exchange

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.

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Network Architect at Signal Allinace

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.

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CTO Training & Consulting at a educational organization with 51-200 employees

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.

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Field service manager at reduno.com

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. 

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Co-founder at a tech services company with 201-500 employees

We are resellers, meaning we are a certified partner of Meraki and, as such, it is my job to sell Meraki products to our customers on the Korean market. Occasionally, I encounter issues concerning the price. It would be good if the price were more attractive to the market. The pricing is not that cost-effective to the customer. 

Cisco potential or actual customers who use Cisco classing models, such as 2,900 switches and other routers, must consider the management of the Cisco product in respect of the desired implementation and not just the classing models. It would be much better were Meraki to provide comprehensive virtual management tools. 

The Cisco market team provides customers with any technical support they may need. Overall, we are satisfied with the support, although I cannot state this unequivocally, since there are certain issues we have encountered when opening a ticket.

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Associate Senior Researcher at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees

If you compare Meraki with other solutions, the level of security is minimal.

The security needs to be improved, which is why we also use FortiGate. Meraki offers the client basic security, it is not the same as what FortiGate is offering. The customers question the security as they see that they have some loopholes. They feel that a hacker can easily enter your data. When you operate the network to the family, on the outside a hacker can see the IP address inside the network.

Customers will request a firewall to protect the network.

I would like to see Meraki include firewall security. Also, they should have encryption inside the router to make the data secure.

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IP Network Architect/Manager at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees

This solution can only support up to two WAN ports. However, many of our customers would like to have four WAN ports.

This solution comes without NAT support enabled. If you need it, then NAT has to be enabled.

If this solution were cheaper then it would be of interest to smaller companies.

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Vice President Of Services at a tech services company with 51-200 employees

With Meraki, it's more of a basic connectivity. It doesn't have all the feature sets that a Cisco SD-WAN solution has. It's limited. 

The product needs to offer connectivity in the major clouds due to the fact that everybody has at least part of their workloads in the cloud.

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IT Network/Security Manager at Inlaks Nigeria

The solution could be improved if it added more security features, especially monitoring endpoints with rogue network applications.

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B2B Product Developer at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees

The product could be improved by being made more simple to use. We had some issues integrating our MPLS with Meraki SD-WAN 

Some features that should be included in the next release are micro-segmentation, ITS-related features, and inspection and detection for anti-malware. 

I also think that they need to improve their hardware. They have some devices that support Wi-Fi, but not LTE and they have some other devices that only support LTE but not Wi-Fi. 

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SD-WAN Sr. Product Manager at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees

The solution sometimes drops VoIP calls, which is a nuisance. The solution is not true SD-WAN, rather L3 VPNs. All they do is put a wrapper around it so that you don't have to configure it, but it lacks controllers. 

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IT Manager at a hospitality company with 201-500 employees

The solution needs to enact more advanced protections. 

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Network Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees

The security and upgrading could improve in this solution.

In an upcoming release, they could add more security features, such as antivirus.

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Digital Solutions Arquitect - PaaS at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees

You need to have internet access to configure the solution. You cannot do it locally, there should be a local option.

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Learn what your peers think about Meraki SD-WAN. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: January 2022.
564,599 professionals have used our research since 2012.