The Meraki brand is valuable to businesses and organizations that rely heavily on virtual and online-based infrastructure to carry out their daily operations, whether internally or client-facing.
Cisco Meraki is a cloud solution that provides users with a centralized management hub where they can view and manage all Meraki devices connected to their network in a single, easy-to-use platform. It is flexible, versatile, scalable, and offers automation.
Before you build a Meraki network cloud infrastructure, we recommend first learning about its licensing options. This will help you manage your network in the future and ensure that everything suits your business.
This article provides an overview of Meraki licenses, the two licensing options, and what each entails. Let’s get started.
Meraki Licenses Are Essential
The first thing you need to know about Meraki devices is you can manage all of them in a single cloud platform. However, to enjoy this benefit, all Meraki devices you own must have an active license.
Simply put, you need an active license for a Meraki device to add it to your Meraki Systems Manager. This is why when you buy a new Meraki device, your dealer will also include licensing for at least one year (other licensing options are for three, five, seven, and ten years). Once a license expires, there will be a 30-day grace period during which Meraki will constantly send reminders to renew the subscription.
Why Do You Need Meraki Licenses?
Some might think that acquiring a license for every device is too expensive and too much of a hassle. However, managing multiple licenses won’t be a problem at all. Moreover, Meraki licensing offers payoffs and benefits that exceed the cost of acquisition.
Here are the benefits of Meraki licensing:
- It Makes Your Devices Work: All Meraki devices need licensing to work 100%. They need to connect to the cloud dashboard for users to configure its settings and get it to work.
- It Lets You Access the Meraki Dashboard: The intuitive, all-in-one dashboard is valuable to any enterprise because it makes it easy for IT specialists to monitor, troubleshoot, deploy updates, manage, and automate firewalls, access points, and security protocols. Users can see all devices connected to the cloud on the dashboard, and from there, you can design workflows and streamline network processes. You can keep your network running without demanding much of your time and attention.
- It Provides Warranty and 24/7 Support: All licensed Meraki products are covered by hardware warranty. Users can also enjoy 24/7 customer support via email or phone calls. Note that Meraki warranty allows you to consult with their engineers; if the problem is hardware failure, they may process a replacement the next working day.
- It Simplifies Licensing Terms By Establishing a Co-termination Date: One of the most convenient features of Meraki systems is it can align all device licenses in a network so that all can have the same expiration date. Therefore, because of the simplified expiration and renewal dates, you won’t have to worry about having a license for every Meraki device in your network.
Having established Meraki licenses’ importance, let’s examine the two options available to organizations.
2 Types of Meraki Licensing
Here are the two licensing models Meraki offers:
- Meraki Co-Termination Licensing
- Meraki Per-Device Licensing (PDL)
Both licensing methods offer the same benefits of maximizing Meraki device functions and having the ability to manage them via the cloud dashboard.
The licensing cost for each device stays the same whether you choose PDL or co-termination. So instead of looking at their estimated costs, consider how each licensing method impacts your IT management style before making a final decision.
Let’s take a closer look at each option.
Meraki Co-Termination Licensing
The key point of co-term licensing is the single expiration date. No matter how many devices you add to your network and how early or late you add them, all of them will deactivate on the same date.
The end date is determined by getting the weighted average of the lengths, types, and number of licenses in your organization. The date also adjusts whenever you add a new device to the organization.
Since November 2019, all Meraki devices have been under co-termination licensing by default. You can then switch to per-device licensing if you prefer that setup. When creating a Meraki environment and you choose PDL licensing, you can switch on the dashboard after creating your organization.
WARNING: While converting from co-term to PDL is possible, you cannot switch from PDL to co-term. You only get one chance to change licensing methods, so decide wisely.
Meraki Per-Device Licensing (PDL)
The second option is to license each Meraki device individually. You buy a license for each device, and each will have its own expiration date. PDL offers greater flexibility than co-term licensing and benefits organizations with different locations. With PDL, you can renew some licenses (instead of all at once), stagger deployments, remove licenses for unused devices, and transfer licenses between devices.
Meraki provides licenses for each device type:
- Meraki MR Licenses: The MR series is an enterprise-grade, cloud-managed device offering wireless local area network (WLAN) access points. Cisco Meraki MR licenses are also applicable to any MR-series Cisco Meraki access point.
- Meraki MS Licenses: These activate the Meraki MS switches that are used to manage and deploy configurations to thousands of switches and ports in one go.
- Meraki MX Licenses: Meraki MX devices facilitate distributed deployments in a network through remote administration. They need access to the cloud network, so it is imperative to buy Meraki MX licenses so that they can work.
- Meraki MDM Licenses: Meraki mobile device management or MDM allows IT departments to monitor mobile devices enrolled in your network, manage access permissions, trace devices, remote-install applications, and more. With Meraki MDM licenses, you can maximize the security benefits and functions of Cisco Meraki MDM.
- Meraki MV Licenses: Integrate security cameras into your cloud network with licensed Meraki MV smart cameras.
- Meraki MG Licenses: Meraki MG devices are cellular gateways or routers that convert LTE or wireless signal to wired Ethernet signal.
- Meraki SM Licenses: The systems manager provides centralized management of network-wide diagnostics, security deployment, and device monitoring. As the system is cloud-based, Meraki systems manager licenses are a must-have. Using the systems manager without a license is possible. However, the number of devices that can be enrolled is limited, and users won’t be eligible for phone support. We recommend buying Meraki systems manager licenses because you can maximize the full potential of the systems manager.
Co-Termination vs. Per-Device Licensing: Which Is Better?
None of the two is better than the other. Each one offers perks that benefit specific types of organizations and businesses more than others. Your choice, therefore, will depend on your organizational structure, IT management style, and network needs, among others.
To help you decide, here are examples of situations in which co-termination or per-device licensing works better than the other.
Co-termination licensing offers the convenience of unifying expiration dates to a single date. It’s convenient for large networks with hundreds of integrated devices and a few personnel tracking licensing terms.
Per-device licensing requires more work and careful tracking of expiration dates. It’s a good model to adopt because it is flexible. However, it can be overwhelming when you’re tracking dates for over 500 devices. The more devices you have, the higher the risk of oversight.
Co-termination licensing requires you to purchase renewals for all devices across the network at the same time. If your business can afford the one-time fee, co-termination should be the more convenient option. Additionally, you can add a new device to the network so that it will recalibrate the license end date and extend it to a later date.
As for per-device licensing, you can stagger license renewal payments to make them more affordable. It also lowers the risk of cash flow problems because you’re not making a one-time, big-time payment that might compromise your other payables.
In a co-termination licensing setup, all devices under the expired license will deactivate if the organization doesn’t renew before the 30-day grace period ends. It’s convenient when you have hundreds of Cisco Meraki devices and tracking the individual licenses and their individual expiration date becomes too big a task. However, oversight of the renewal date can cause huge problems for the organization. They’ll be forced to pause operations until the licenses are sorted out.
Per-device licensing offers more flexibility. You can choose which devices to renew, how many, and for how long. Licenses are also transferable, so if you have a licensed but defective device, you only have to buy a replacement and transfer the current license to it.
Co-termination makes renewing licenses quick and easy. Even if you have over a hundred Cisco Meraki devices, you only have to do the renewal once.
Per-device licensing is convenient in other ways. It allows you to stagger hundreds of license renewals into more manageable chunks and move licenses between networks without having to call Cisco Meraki for assistance.
Navigate the Complexity of Meraki Licenses With Stratus Information Systems
We’ve covered a condensed guide for Meraki licenses, and there’s more to discuss if you intend to create a Meraki network organization. Our experts at Stratus Information Systems are happy to help you whatever your needs may be.
We are a Cisco Meraki channel partner with experienced cloud network specialists. If you seek professional assistance in creating cloud solutions from scratch or want to update your existing cloud infrastructure, we are the best people for the job.
Contact us today to get started!