An In-Depth Review of Cisco Meraki’s SD-WAN Solution

May 6, 2024

Network Administration

Cisco Meraki has a well-earned reputation for simplifying network management for large enterprises and organizations. It offers complete, cloud-supported networking solutions, and its product lines have become staples in organizations worldwide. 

The Cisco Meraki SD-WAN is a perfect example. It is widely used in both tech and non-tech industries such as education, healthcare, financial services, banking, IT services, and manufacturing. It is a tried-and-tested solution for organizations with offices in different locations. If you have branches in various remote places and are experiencing any difficulties with your wide-area network (WAN), the Meraki SD-WAN can solve your problem. 

Let’s deep-dive into the key features of the Meraki SD-WAN and how it works. We’ll also discuss Cisco Meraki’s SD-WAN pros and cons for a more comprehensive overview of how it can benefit your business. 

What Is Meraki SD-WAN?

SD-WAN, or software-defined area networking, is a cutting-edge networking technology – an upgrade to the traditional WAN architecture. 

Traditional WAN is primarily on-site and hardware-heavy. It typically consists of stacks of routers installed on a “tower” and meters upon meters of ethernet cable wires that connect to computer stations, printers, fax machines, and other devices that require Internet access. In contrast, an SD-WAN solution relies on software and reduces the need for tens or hundreds of appliances for every office location. 

So what is Meraki SD-WAN? It is a software-based networking solution for managing one or more external network connections like broadband, fiber optic Internet services, and multiprotocol label switching (MPL). For example, Cisco Meraki SD-WAN allows network administrators to define which WAN link applications may connect to establish rules, i.e., restrict apps and websites that may be used for specific links to ensure peak performance. 

As an industry leader in wireless networking technology, Cisco integrated its expertise in the cloud into SD-WAN solutions. As a result, the Meraki SD-WAN is ideal for those who need fast and stable network connectivity across multiple branches or offices in different cities, states, or countries.  

How Does Meraki SD-WAN Work?

Cisco SD-WAN is powered by Meraki and delivered through Meraki MX appliances. It enables devices from different geographical locations to connect to each other through a secure virtual network. However, more than that, it has an intelligent path selection feature that automatically identifies the best route for each application or data flow. The SD-WAN constantly monitors WAN link performance and availability, so if it detects congestion on one link, it may route some of its traffic to another link to ensure high-speed connection and stability for all users.  

In a nutshell, Meraki SD-WAN enables hundreds of users, applications, and data from different locations to connect to a single network. Thanks to its automatic traffic and data routing, network administrators can ensure that business-critical applications are always prioritized. They can prevent congestion and minimize latency, both of which can negatively impact service delivery and customer experience. 

The Selling Points 

Cisco Meraki is known for its innovative cloud networking solutions, and its SD-WAN is no exception. Let’s look at some of the key Cisco Meraki SD-WAN suite of features and the benefits that distinguish this brand from other names in the market. 


If you’re already using Cisco Meraki devices, it would be easy to integrate them into an SD-WAN solution. Meraki is a leader in plug-and-play solutions, and all its components – routers, security cameras, wireless access points – integrate seamlessly with one another.


There’s also no need to install a ton of on-premises hardware. Two or more MX appliances are enough to create Auto VPN tunnels between devices in various locations on any WAN link. Additionally, if you acquire Meraki SD-WAN via a licensed Meraki partner, the latter can provide easy-to-follow instructions and training for setting up and managing secure networks. 

Remote Configuration and Easy Deployment

Since Meraki products are plug-and-play, configuring SD-WAN for a new location can take minutes. Moreover, Meraki’s zero-touch provisioning allows administrators to establish network links without traveling to that new location to supervise network configurations in person. Businesses can enjoy massive time- and cost-savings because they can connect new branches and accommodate new remote employees quickly and more efficiently. 


Cisco Meraki takes security very seriously. All its devices support security features and have built-in SourceFire intrusion prevention system (IPS), which is an industry standard for advanced, real-time threat protection. Furthermore, Meraki MX firewalls offer the following features:

  • Layer 7 traffic classification and control
  • Unified Threat Management (UTM) 
  • Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
  • Built-in site-to-site VPN
  • Auto and self-configuring VPN 
  • Regularly updated content filters and threat definitions
  • Additional support from the industry-leading Talos System


Now, let’s talk about performance. Meraki SD-WAN is perfect for high-speed fiber, enterprise-class cable, and 5G technology. It is exceptional for manual or automatic traffic shaping and application classification, prioritization, and management. It can segregate WAN uplink by traffic type, quickly implement failover to backup lines, enable on-the-fly troubleshooting, and offer broad visibility over a single glass plane. 

Here are the specs of the Meraki MX appliances:

  • SD-WAN with a stateful firewall throughput from 250 Mbps to 6 Gbps
  • Advanced security throughput up to 4 Gbps
  • Client VPN (IPsec) and 3G/4G failover via USB modem (CAT 6 LTE on select models)
  • VPN throughput from 450 Mbps to 2 Gbps for 50-10,000 clients 
  • Dual-band and concurrent channels with speeds of 2.4 and 5 GHz
  • Geo-based IP firewalls 


Simple Management and Maintenance

The centralized management interface via Dashboard ensures that SD-WAN management is a breeze with Cisco Meraki. The company is known for its simplicity and ease of use, allowing administrators to update network settings, configure devices, monitor traffic in real-time, manage permissions for access points, and streamline IT operations easily. 


One of the major selling points of the Meraki MX and SD-WAN solutions is its scalability. The system is designed for easy expansion and downsizing to accommodate an organization’s needs. With features like plug-and-play devices and zero-touch provisioning, it is easy to create and deploy a new network for each new location or branch of a business and do the reverse if a branch closes down. 

Summary of Pros and Cons



  • It simplifies the management and deployment of multiple networks.
  • Installations are quick and easy.
  • Network configuration and device provisioning can be done remotely.
  • IIts exceptional manual and automated traffic shaping ensures a fast and stable connection for all network users at all times.
  • Top-level security features protect the network.
  • Users can enjoy huge cost savings thanks to the minimal hardware requirements and quick network updates and deployments.



  • The simplicity of the deployment and management can be limiting for organizations that need granular control of their WAN interfaces.  
  • Organizations with very unique or complex requirements are also in the same boat. Meraki SD-WAN simplifies processes, which is the complete opposite of what these clients need.  


Consult a Meraki Partner Today

It’s not too late to experience the benefits of Cisco Meraki’s SD-WAN solutions for your business. If this is new territory for your organization, get in touch with a certified Meraki partner today.

Stratus Information Systems, a Meraki Channel Partner offering consulting, sales, logistics, and network services, can assist you in establishing a Meraki-powered SD-WAN system for your organization. Call us if you’re transitioning into a 100% cloud-managed organization or are still using traditional WAN systems that limit your business capabilities.

Working with Stratus Information Systems gives you a valuable partnership with a company that can provide the Cisco Meraki solutions that fit your needs and budget. Contact us to request a free trial and demo today.