What Is Cisco Meraki?

Cisco Meraki
February 22, 2023

If you’ve been in the tech and IT industry long enough, you’ll recognize the brand name Cisco and its logo that resembles the Golden Gate Bridge, with two taller lines symbolizing the towers. So what is Meraki? Meraki is a mesh networking startup that designed its technology based on the Roofnet Project, an experiment developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Its creators wanted to create a self-organizing wireless network that could route data packets by hopping from one roof-mounted antenna to another (the nodes that receive and transmit data).

The result? MIT students who participated in the project enjoyed free, wireless Internet access.

It’s fascinating to learn more about Meraki and its history because it paints a clear picture of what Cisco Meraki is today. Below, we’ll delve into the background and some of the services offered by Cisco Meraki.

A Brief History of Cisco Meraki

Cisco Meraki is a globally known company specializing in web-managed, Internet-connected software, platforms, and devices. When Cisco acquired Meraki in 2012, the company also acquired Meraki’s expertise and pioneering projects in cloud-managed networking. Today, Cisco Meraki is the most trusted name for secure and scalable cloud architecture that’s easy to deploy and manage remotely. 

Cisco Meraki now offers a wide array of products and services. What’s great about the brand is users can integrate Meraki products to create a holistic, cloud-managed ecosystem where security solutions, switches, and other IT functions can interact seamlessly. The more Cisco Meraki products and solutions you have, the better outcomes you can get.

Below, we will focus on five solutions that have proven invaluable to enterprises today.

Cisco Meraki Firewalls

When industry experts talk about firewalls, expect Cisco Meraki firewalls to be part of that discussion.

What is Meraki firewall, and what makes it so special? Cisco Meraki MX is a series of next-generation security and SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network) appliances that form a powerful Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution. The “MX” stands for Meraki Security and refers to the hardware and software comprising the wireless, cloud-managed security system.

Organizations can deploy UTM across multiple sites remotely and quickly to establish a reliable protective “firewall” over their entire network. More importantly, Cisco Meraki UTM customers can get backup support from Talos, one of the world’s largest commercial threat intelligence teams. Firewalls operate on Layer 7 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model.

The Meraki MX is a slim, portable device with multiple WAN and LAN ports with firewall throughput ranging from 600mbps to 6Gbps. Some devices have dual antennas, cellular integration, WiFi, and PoE (point over ethernet), while others – all-in-one models – have all these features.

A fully-deployed Cisco Meraki firewall boasts the following:

  • Advanced layer-7 firewall protection (traffic classification and control) powered by Talos
  • Cisco AMP (Advanced Malware Protection) and DLP (Data Loss Prevention) functionalities
  • Built-in site-to-site VPN capability
  • Zero-touch, self-provisioning deployments for easy scaling and setup
  • A highly proactive Intrusion Detection Engine that ensures 24/7 security
  • An identity-based and device-aware security protocol that controls and detects abnormal user classification activities
  • Active Directory Integration, which allows security administrators to remotely update access controls specific to every user classification or profile
  • 100% managed on the cloud

Cisco Meraki Switches

Cisco utilized Meraki’s expertise in wireless technology and produced the MS (Meraki Switching) series of network switches. Today, Cisco Meraki switches have become a mainstay in corporate offices and business establishments that use Internet-connected equipment like computers, printers, fax machines, and routers in their daily operations. Network switches operate on Layer 2 of the OSI.

What is Meraki switch used for? A network switch is a piece of hardware that links devices in a network together. It allows devices to communicate by sending data packets to each other. Switches are available as hardware that manage physical networks or software that operate virtual devices.

Here are other examples of uses of the Cisco Meraki switches in offices, facilities, and commercial establishments:

  • Provide wired connections to computers, printers, and wireless access points (WAPs).
  • Connect industrial machinery to the data center and control booths where technicians can control the equipment from a safe distance.
  • Connect Internet of Things (IoT) devices like biometrics and ID card entry systems.

Cisco Meraki Wireless Access Points

The Cisco Meraki Wireless is highly intuitive and allows users to manage, configure, and deploy devices, protocols, programs, etc., in the network. At the same time, it gathers information and provides analytics data that organizations can use to improve operations and ramp up network security.

Cisco Meraki Wireless creates a wireless local area network (WLAN) using an access point connected to a wired router or switch via ethernet cables. The access point then generates a WiFi signal over a small, designated area.

Cisco Meraki Wireless offers the following benefits:

  • Quick and easy to deploy.
  • Extends wireless Internet access in a building or facility without the organization spending extra on additional hardware.
  • Accommodates increases in the number of WiFi users effortlessly.
  • Easily scalable.
  • Allows IT and security specialists to control access to WiFi and ensure network security.
  • Location and user analytics that compile information like user data, visit time, repeat visits, and capture rate.
  • Provides strong WiFi connection in demanding environments and densely populated locations.
  • It comes with built-in threat detection.
  • Deploys identity-based firewall, which automatically enforces traffic rules based on user classification protocols.

A similar device called a range extender can also be used to supply wireless Internet in offices and facilities. However, WAPs are the better choice because range extenders have a smaller limit on the number of devices that can access WiFi (around 20). Range extenders also cannot increase the available bandwidth in a WiFi access area, which WAP devices can do.

Cisco Meraki Cameras

Physical security is crucial for business, whether you are a small enterprise or a multi-million-dollar company. But there are challenges with the standard closed-circuit TV (CCTV) systems that are widely used globally: they require a dedicated network, and security specialists must be on the premises to review and monitor the security footage to ensure real-time physical security.

Cisco Meraki solves these problems with the Meraki MV cameras. Designed to provide robust, 24/7 surveillance if necessary, these cameras can capture a clear picture or thermal images in daytime and nighttime, outdoors and indoors. When integrated into your on-site security team’s daily tasks, these security cameras can support and extend on-site security without necessarily increasing the number of guards on the premises.

These cameras are available in various models, all unobtrusive and unintrusive. Cisco Meraki ensured the lenses could capture viable footage while being concealed just enough that people could not determine the direction the lenses point.

Here’s what you can expect from Cisco Meraki Cameras:

  • Intuitive lenses that adjust to the lighting and work well in low-light situations.
  • Lenses automatically adjust exposure settings to accommodate changes in lighting throughout the day.
  • Durable with a sturdy casing that can endure harsh environmental conditions.
  • Impressive surveillance capabilities include:
    • Track customer/foot traffic patterns, which you can use to adjust floor layouts, display locations, and product stocking techniques
    • Monitor behavioral tendencies among employees and customers
    • Scheduled recording
    • High-capacity data storage for security footage
    • Motion-based recording
    • Motion and heat mapping
    • Intelligent object detection
    • Automatic network detection and linking to ensure the cameras are always online
    • Automatic encryption to prevent tampering with footage
    • Cloud storage with various management options
    • Automatic firmware updates

The high trust rating on Cisco Meraki MV Cameras is so well-known that customers and passersby know their reliability. The sight of these security cameras brings the following benefits:

  • Deter crimes like vandalism, theft, and trespassing.
  • Improve overall safety for everyone on the business premises.
  • Settle disputes between employees and customers with video surveillance evidence.
  • Obtain viable evidence to solve a legal issue.
  • Enjoy discounts on insurance premiums.

Cisco Meraki MDM

In the current trend of remote working and flexible on-site workstations becoming more common, business organizations need to establish mobile device management (MDM) systems to optimize productivity tools and applications while ensuring network security. Cisco Meraki responds to this need with its MDM solutions.

Cisco Meraki MDM simplifies and streamlines the control and management of devices that can access a business network. We’re talking about laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and other digital tools that must link to the network to collect or retrieve data, whether remotely (offsite) or on-site.

Meraki MDM allows IT and security technicians to efficiently control and enforce network linking policies through a unified and centralized dashboard. Thanks to Meraki’s prowess with cloud-based wireless networks, security officers can manage devices on the go and allow employees to work anywhere on site, support BYOD policies, and enforce security SOPs for all mobile devices like two-factor authentication.

Here are the benefits of using Cisco Meraki MDM:

  • Absolute permissions control and management for all company-issued devices.
  • Ability to control user access to your network, like implementing time limits and restricting the use of cameras on mobile phones and other devices with ocular lenses.
  • Easy and efficient deployment of network settings.
  • Have a database for all linked devices.
  • Ability to remotely lock and delete the contents of a lost or stolen device.
  • Provide troubleshooting assistance to device users.
  • Allow BYOD initiatives without compromising network security.

Maximize the Benefits and Opportunities Cisco Meraki Solutions Offer

Whether your organization is overdue for a tech update or you want to transition from your current cloud service providers to more powerful, scalable, and robust wireless solutions, Cisco Meraki is an excellent choice – and we at Stratus Information Systems can help you every step of the way.

We are a Cisco Meraki Channel Partner specializing in deploying cloud networks for enterprises of all sizes. Our knowledgeable specialists are unparalleled in designing cloud and wireless solutions that fulfill each client’s business needs. We guide customers in implementing wireless security, integrated sales and logistics platforms, and other relevant network services.

We’d love to tell you more about what Cisco Meraki and we can do for your business. Contact us to request a free trial, demo, or customized quote!