October 16, 2016
When Meraki was founded in 2006, it began to create some waves in the networking world. Network administrators were now able to manage and monitor their network devices in the cloud. Gone were the days of manually linking laptops to switches and routers to configure and update network policies. National and international networks could be managed from a single device anywhere in the world.
Today, the Meraki dashboard alone is not enough for networks composed of both traditional networking equipment and Meraki devices. For these instances, we recommend integrating your Meraki devices with Cisco Prime. Even in a full Meraki network, administrators may find that Prime provides additional value on its own.
Cisco Prime vs. Meraki
While Meraki does have a cloud-based management platform that allows you to support your Meraki network devices, that does not mean it is a competing product with Cisco Prime. Prime is so much more. It offers vastly superior insight, visibility, and control of the network from a single centralized platform. There may be some overlap between the two, but it would be like comparing an alarm clock to a smartwatch.
When considering how to best manage your Meraki network, the decision isn’t between Meraki or Prime. Meraki itself can be integrated into the Prime platform to leverage the enhanced functionality of Prime.
Integrating Meraki with Cisco Prime
Cisco Prime and Meraki integrate together in two key ways. Meraki products are both easy to find and easy to configure within the Prime management software.
Once integrated, Meraki devices will be visible on the same screen in the same dashboard alongside of the network devices. Administrators can search for and filter by device and interact with Meraki devices in the same way they would with any others.
Equal visibility across all network device types allows for a bird’s eye view of network health and performance.
Device configuration actually still occurs within the Meraki dashboard instead of Prime, but Prime makes the process as easy as possible. Instead of booting up the Meraki Dashboard, searching for the device, and configuring it, Cisco Prime displays a “device link” next to that specific device in Prime. Once clicked, it will open a configuration window within Meraki to manage that particular device.
The Benefits of Cisco Prime Infrastructure
So far, we have demonstrated that Meraki devices within Cisco Prime are easy to find and easy to configure, but how will Cisco Prime actually help? A Meraki network integrated into Cisco Prime gains a number of significant benefits. Administrators gain:
- Easy Deployment of Other Cisco Networking Solutions: Cisco Prime makes it easier to deploy such features and solutions as intelligent WAN (IWAN), Application Visibility and Control, Zone-Based Firewalls, and more.
- Application Visibility: Cisco Prime Infrastructure provides insight into how your applications are using your network. Administrators can see performance stats and bandwidth consumption of each application. These sorts of capabilities used to only be possible by adding another separate network device for that purpose alone.
- Mobile Collaboration Management: Your team can view the full picture of wireless access to your network. You can view spatial maps of your network, monitor and troubleshoot network security and policies, perform lifecycle management, and track the location of interferers on the network.
- Network and Compute Management: Administrators gain full control over both network and compute devices. You can discover, inventory, configure, monitor, troubleshoot, pull reports, and administer compute and network devices with Cisco Prime.
The history of the technology industry has been the ongoing pursuit of efficiency and simplicity in the face of enormous complexity. How can we create networks that span the globe yet make them easy enough for a small team to support and manage? Cisco Prime and Meraki are both individual steps towards that goal, but together they open up a number of possibilities to consolidate and streamline complex networks.
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*Images gathered from the Cisco Prime Infrastructure Integration Guide for Cisco Meraki