WLAN Decision Making: Meraki Cloud or Cisco Premise?

or many businesses in the United States, the Internet is wireless. Your employees connect to the Internet via laptops, smartphones, and Wi-Fi. To maintain this dynamic, companies rely on their wireless infrastructure.

For many businesses in the United States, the Internet is wireless. Your employees connect to the Internet via laptops, smartphones, and Wi-Fi. To maintain this dynamic, companies rely on their wireless infrastructure. In the world of Cisco, customers have two options for building their WLAN. They could implement a Cisco solution on-premises or take the meraki cloud route. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and before making a decision, you need to understand how these decisions fit together.

Meraki Cloud and Cisco Wireless LAN

 CapEx vs Opex

The real difference between the two solutions is much less related to the features, capabilities or use cases, although they are an important factor. The truth is that both solutions will be a viable option in the vast majority of cases for the vast majority of companies.

One of the most important differences between Managed Meraki Services and Cisco's on-premises solution is that one is closely related to operational expense (OpEx) and the other to capital expense (CapEx).


Meraki requires customers to purchase an annual license to use its solution, but initial implementation costs are significantly lower than for a local Cisco solution.

Cisco On-Prem

In contrast, an on-premises Cisco solution requires the customer to purchase and implement additional hardware to support and manage the WLAN. Consequently, the initial cost will be higher, but you will avoid the ongoing annual cost of renewing licenses. However, this comes with its own set of hidden costs. Without the help of the Meraki cloud platform, the customer will have to stand behind their solution. This requires an investment in qualified personnel who must spend part of their time maintaining the WLAN.

Stability and flexibility

It must be reiterated that both Meraki and Cisco on-site are viable routes for many deployments. Calling Meraki inflexible or rigid would be a disservice to the solution, but Cisco on premises is the more flexible of the two. The team is yours. All equipment belongs to you and is cared for by your team. This gives you more control over your WLAN than using the cloud platform provided by Meraki.

If your business requires different types of antennas for coverage, if you have a team of engineers behind you, the added flexibility of a local solution may appeal to you.

Controllability and characteristics


Cloud hosting: The Meraki Cloud Controller interface can be controlled from anywhere with internet access, as the controller is in the cloud. Meraki has a mobile application compatible with iOS or Android, so the environment can be controlled from anywhere and from any device. The Cisco premises-based controller must be managed from the same location or over the Internet through a VPN client.

Intuitive interface - Meraki's cloud-based interface is more intuitive, easier to configure, and has more advanced functionality than the Cisco WLAN controller interface. With Meraki's cloud solution, administrators can add wireless access to new locations with fully automatic provisioning, use Application Visibility and Control (AVC) to determine which mission-critical applications are in use, with the ability to prioritize those critical applications and reduce bandwidth for specific applications. Applications. or block specific applications in a few clicks and easily identify BYOD clients and then automatically apply access policies to those devices at the device group or device level. The Cisco WLAN controller interface is not as intuitive and requires an engineer with some implementation experience to get the job done right. Additionally, the Cisco Wireless LAN Controller does not offer the same level of access control / application usage policies, traffic shaping capabilities, and location analysis.

Single Glass Panel - With Meraki, your entire network can be managed under one glass panel as you have the ability to integrate WAN, LAN, WLAN, and mobile device management on one page. An on-premises Cisco solution requires multiple management points and additional layers of software to provide the same level of transparency.

Always update: With Cisco's solution, it is recommended that you update your WLAN controller code once or twice a year, which can be tricky and will definitely affect performance. With the Meraki cloud solution, IT departments can forget about updates or fixes. New features and code levels in Meraki are provided as automatic updates so you are always up to date with new device types / application profiles, as well as new dashboard tools.


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