IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Vendor to Watch: Cisco Meraki

The company's diverse portfolio and single-pane-of-glass management presents an opportunity for VARs wanting to expand into managed services. By Geoffrey Oldmixon

Three years ago, Meraki was a networking products provider known nearly exclusively for its wireless innovations. It has since been acquired by San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. and sports a diverse portfolio, which includes security appliances, switches, communications, mobility management, and, of course, wireless networking. According to Kevin Rezai, Cisco’s Meraki distribution manager, this presents a lot of opportunity for VARs looking to expand into managed services. “If you’re not ramping your Meraki practice, you might want to consider doing so,” he says.

“What unifies our product line is the single-pane-of-glass management” using the Meraki dashboard, which is central to the company’s cloud technology, explains Rezai. “Imagine everything in the office space can be managed from a single pane,” Rezai suggests. “That’s what the customer is looking for—a single solution.” For mobile device management there’s Systems Manager, which provides centralized management of integrated mobile and desktop devices.

For 10 years, Meraki has stood for one statement, according to Rezai: “IT should be simpler to monitor and manage.” And he’s not talking from the end-user perspective. “There is a misconception that because Meraki is so easy, SMBs don’t need managed services,” Rezai explains. “This isn’t true. Your customers want an easy solution. They want to pay you some bill per month and [have] you take care of everything.”

For many VARs, expanding managed services offerings can mean a big investment. “It’s a huge infrastructure,” Rezai says. “The idea of Meraki is that it’s managed from a single dashboard. There’s no additional cost to become a managed services provider. There’s no special certification. You can start configuring boxes and policies before the gear even arrives. It’s zero-touch provision and remote live troubleshooting,” he adds.

“Partners benefit from selling the full stack,” says Rezai. “Anyone can start being an MSP.”

About the Author

Geoffrey Oldmixon is a freelance writer based in Western Massachusetts.

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