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What's the difference between Cisco SD WAN Viptela vs Meraki?

What's the difference between Cisco SD WAN Viptela vs Meraki?

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Cisco Viptela and Meraki offer the capability to deploy SD WAN services across Global SMEs and large business. Deciding on which solution is suited to your business requires an understanding of their respective strengths vs business requirements together with WAN costs for TCO.

At a high level, the Viptela proposition offers a more granular approach to networking, meaning large complex Enterprise requirements are instantly better suited to a Viptela SD WAN deployment. With deep packet inspection, support for advanced routing and sophisticated orchestration, Viptela is highly configurable vs Meraki which, to a certain extent, works out of the box. Meraki is ideal for fairly standard requirements to meet the majority of branch office needs with easy to configure wireless.

We often view Viptela WAN services as a co-managed or even fully managed due to the added complexity required to make the most from deployments, whereas Meraki is often DIY as the configuration is simplified in comparison.

The typical questions which arise begin with a discussion on how many links does your business need to support for load balancing or redundancy. At the most basic level, Meraki supports dual WAN circuits vs Viptela which is able to support additional requirements. It is also important to note that Meraki appliances will only support technologies such as 4G (and 5G) as a backup, Viptela will support cellular wireless as a primary which can be used for load balancing.

Viptela is also deployed within Data center based SD WAN solutions or as a component of Cloud architecture. Where your business is building out a complete SD WAN capability, the need to control your actual infrastructure is often a base architectural requirement. Viptela is strong in this respect and can be hosted within your own private cloud infrastructure as a physical appliance or NFV installation where required.

If your network topology requires network segmentation - individual IPSec VPN services built from specific hosts or devices - Viptela will support the ability to separate these VPN tunnels vs all other traffic. On the reverse side, Meraki only supports single VPN topology deployments in a hub and spoke or full mesh VPN tunnel configuration.

Viptela is the closest alternative product to private based MPLS VPN services. QoS app performance is achieved via WAAS (Cisco TCP WAN acceleration and optimization built in) together with  the ability to detect network issues and public cloud path selection for SaaS application performance. As an example, Viptela is able to calculate the best possible path to application resources on an almost real time basis. Meraki will monitor application behavior using the insight license but will not actually adapt and make decisions.

An introduction to Cisco Meraki

Prior to the Cisco acquisition of Meraki in 2012, the technology was focused on cloud-managed wireless. As of writing this article, Meraki is designed to offer the capability to meet almost every networking outcome. With their Meraki Dashboard, businesses can manage indoor and outdoor WiFi access points, routing, switching and security elements of networking. Meraki offers the ability to manage thousands of endpoints as a full-stack service offering. Other options include Cisco Umbrella which offers protection for users against ransomware and malware without adding increased latency.

Cisco SD WAN Viptela vs Meraki Diagram 2

What are the components of Meraki?

      • Meraki Dashboard - Cloud managed service for the entire deployment.
      • Wireless - Indoor and outdoor management of access points.
      • Switching - stackable layer 2 switches in addition to layer 3 routing.
      • Systems manager - integration of all products.

An introduction to Cisco Viptela

Viptela currently provides Software-Defined Wide Area Networking to many of the Fortune 500 companies. The original goals for Viptela engineers was to remove the WAN from the physical connectivity (underlay) providing an overlay across the complete network regardless of connection. Security and network segregation are big wins for Viptela which is one of the reasons why larger organizations with complex requirements will opt for a bespoke deployment. With layer 4 to 7 awareness, third party network services can also be directed under a single global SD WAN policy.

Viptela SD WAN vs Meraki Drawing 1-1

What are the components of Viptela?

  • vSmart Controller - Single portal to manage all elements from network segmentation, routing, security and authentication.
  • vManage - central point of management, including configuration.
  • vEdge Routers - IP routing which providers the typical support for BGP, OSPF, ACLs, QoS and various routing policies.
  • Support for NFV on selected Cisco devices or virtual instances.
  • vBond Orchestrator - orchestration of each element into the network and how all services connect.

Why should your business select Meraki?

      • Meraki offers a full stack capability from LAN to WAN with comprehensive options to meet most budgets.
      • Security is based on Layer 7 application awareness allowing IT teams to create policies and polities applications for effective local QoS (Quality of Service) to support mission-critical and unified communication applications.
      • 4G and 5G are configurable as failover options.
      • Management of both the LAN and WAN from one centralized Cloud based platform.
      • Applications can be easily analyzed across both the LAN and WAN allowing support to understand where issues may exist, e.g. a host server.
      • Meraki can act at the basis of your UTM (Unified Threat Management) for the network.

Why should your business select Viptela?

      • Viptela orchestration meets the demands of more extensive hybrid networks where multiple underlay connectivity is provisioned on a global basis. With Viptela, deep packet inspection provides the option to define policies against traffic profiles, thereby meeting the demands of larger more complex networks and user needs.
      • Granular packet inspection with analysis creating comprehensive reporting and network monitoring.
      • Where organizations are using Cisco ISRs or vEdge, Viptela can be deployed without the need to replace the physical hardware.
      • Viptela supports greater than 2 ISP/MPLS circuits/connections, allowing organizations to support failover scenarios depending on business requirements including 4G/5G connectivity. The flexibility is achieved, in part, due to traffic segmentation allowing multiple topologies with connections originating from the LAN existing within their own VPN.
      • The Viptela solution allows IT teams to insert a service into an existing VPN, e.g. Firewall functionality such as Intrusion Protection.
      • Viptela deployments offer architecture to install SD WAN within the data center (including a Cisco DC) or your own office location comms room.
      • WAN optimization (WAAS) is a component of the Viptela solution. SaaS applications are prioritized based on best path calculated with specific Viptela algorithms (application-aware routing).

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