Just over a year ago, I had my first encounter with Meraki. Thanks to the Wireless Tech Field Day team, I was able to watch many of the sessions live from home. Luckily, Meraki was one of them I got to see. After learning a little bit about what Meraki was doing, it never seemed like rocket science, but it still seemed like magic. They solved arguably the biggest problem in networking today – network management with a focus on the Campus.
I wrote a blog just under a year ago after learning about Meraki about the potential synergies between Meraki and Software Defined Networking. I said there were two independent things happening, the traditional notion of SDN and then what Meraki was doing with Cloud-Based networking. Since much of what we are still seeing (for now) in SDN is focused on the Data Center and Meraki is focused on WLAN, Campus, and Branch, they are clearly in two different parts of the network. No overlap, right? Maybe for now, but I wouldn’t be so sure in the future.
At this point, I truly believe there is much more to be gained from Meraki than a simple to use network management platform making it a win for Cisco now and win for Cisco in the future. It is all about their controller platform. I don’t remember the details from last year during the WTFD2 presentation, but there was a bit of a discussion on the database portion and replication of the Meraki cloud controller platform. It is this type of controller technology that can potentially be leveraged in other areas of Cisco’s software strategy in the future. By have a solid, stable, and large scale controller platform like Meraki’s, it should build more confidence in what we should expect to see from an SDN controller platform in the future.
When we look at the management, control, and data planes of network devices, we can see the gradual shifts of the industry. If one thing is for certain, deployments will continue to ease further simplifying the complexity and costs of the network. This may mean, however, budgets will need to start changing as well - there will be more residual and reoccurring costs for these types of cloud based platforms.
Congratulations to Meraki and Cisco.