Cisco Meraki SD WAN & SASE Cybersecurity Solutions

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The simplicity of Meraki SD WAN means that the power and flexibility is directly in the hands of the customer or service provider. Meraki SD WAN combines the layer 7-based application detection that comes as standard across the entire Meraki stack to achieve this in a more succinct fashion.

Cisco Meraki SD WAN & SASE Cybersecurity Solutions

Cisco Meraki SD WAN and SASE Solution: Comparisons, Review, Benefits, Use Cases, Pros & Cons

Author: Netify Research Team

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Customers choose Cisco Meraki because of it's simplicity and low cost. The solution is designed to be easy to manage with quick deployment and management tools located in the cloud. The solution is primarily aimed at Small - Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and mid-market companies, but does offer a lot of scalability for larger solutions. Meraki is good for enterprises with a number of branch offices, requiring granular features.

Although Meraki is a cost-effective solution to begin with, the addition of licensing fees can cause the cost to rise, creating in some cases, an expensive solution. Further, some customer reviews suggest that because customer support is so rarely required that the Meraki support team can be hard to contact and slow to respond to requests. 

Meraki has a very large partner channel, which offers clients a wide range of choices when choosing a managed services provider (Meraki do not sell direct). The sheer number of partners can be confusing for IT decision-makers, a clear understanding of a client's business requirements is important to make the right choice. 

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About Cisco Meraki

Meraki was founded in 2006 by Sanjit Biswas, John Bicket and Hans Robertson and is today headquartered in San Francisco, California, North America. The cloud infrastructure startup was acquired by Cisco Systems in 2012 for $1.2 billion in cash as their easy-to-deploy, mid-market solution. 

Cisco Meraki’s focus is on cloud managed products such as wireless, switching, security, SD WAN, mobile device management, smart cameras and a cloud network platform that are all centrally managed from the web. The company’s MX range of SD WAN appliances feature support for wired WAN connections, 802.11ac wave 2 Wi-Fi and integrated CAT 6 cellular modems.

Pros & Cons

What are the pros and cons of Cisco Meraki SD WAN & SASE Cybersecurity?

List of the pros and cons associated with Meraki SD WAN and SASE security.


  • Offer a feature-rich SASE solution backed by significant tried and trusted global expertise - Meraki offered integrated security (including IoT), networking and SD WAN before SASE was recognized.
  • Users reviews have noted a high ease of use and deployment, with strong performance and uptime.


  • User reviews often bring up a lack of advanced enterprise features and oversimplification in some layer 7 functions leading to little depth for complex use cases.
  • The Cisco Meraki license must be kept current and up to date to avoid downtime, resulting in less flexibility on costs to usage.
  • User reviews show license fee to be slightly higher than near peer competitors, and may be too much for some SMEs.
  • Although Cisco provide SASE, the products are known to be quite fragmented - however Cisco are beginning to consolidate their offering into their Umbrella product suite.
  • The Meraki channel is large and well supported, which can make choosing the right partner based on business needs difficult.

Comparison: Meraki vs HPE Aruba vs Fortinet (FortiGate) vs Viptela SD WAN & security

Consider the points below to compare Meraki vs HPE Aruba vs Fortinet (FortiGate) vs Viptela SD WAN and SASE security.

Cisco Meraki

  • Meraki are a good choice for businesses with a large number of branch offices requiring granular features - such as retail businesses. They also cater for small businesses with low cost offerings. 
  • Meraki supports broadband, Fiber, MPLS and 4G/5G LTE cellular failover underlay connectivity. 
  • Meraki accesses cloud vendors such as Azure, AWS, Alibaba Cloud and Google Cloud via virtualised appliances. 

HPE Aruba (Silver Peak)

  • HPE Aruba is angled towards large global enterprises, with complex requirements. 
  • HPE Aruba does not provision or support underlay connectivity - it is always provisioned via a third-party MSP. 
  • HPE Aruba offer access to AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud. 

Fortinet (FortiGate)

  • Fortinet are suitable for large global enterprises, connecting branch offices globally with their SD WAN and SASE offerings. 
  • Fortinet supports MPLS, Internet and 3G/LTE underlay connectivity.
  • Fortinet Security Fabric offers security for public cloud environments such as Oracle Cloud, Google Cloud, Azure, AWS and Alibaba Cloud. 


  • Viptela is suitable for large global enterprises with complex requirements and a robust IT team. 
  • Viptela supports MPLS, 4G/LTE, broadband and Internet underlay connectivity.  
  • Viptela accesses Azure, AWS and Google Cloud via a cloud agnostic backbone for site-to-site and multicloud services. 

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Top 3 similar SD WAN Vendors

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What is the Cisco Meraki SD WAN Solution?

Cisco Meraki is a branch office solution designed for Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and larger companies. The company is a popular choice for clients looking to migrate away from expensive MPLS which is achieved by using lower cost leased line DIA and fiber broadband services, deployed via Meraki MX appliances with zero-touch provisioning. 

Configuration-Based Key Features:

  • Multi-Cloud: vMX (a virtualised version of MX) can be deployed in both private and major public clouds (See, How does Cisco Meraki access cloud vendors?).
  • Meraki Dashboard: Designed to create hub and spoke or mesh VPN technologies by automatically negotiating VPN routes, key exchange, as well as authentication and encryption protocols, which are enabled for all Meraki MX appliances within an organization.
  • Hardware Deployment Options: Cisco Meraki SD WAN can be remotely deployed and cloud-managed from an MX hardware appliance, which cater for varying branch sizes, whilst supporting wired WAN connectivity with built-in CAT 6 wireless modems and 802.11ac wave 2 Wi-Fi: 


Branch Size

No. Of Clients

No. Of Users



































































Large Branch/Campus Concentrator




Large Branch/Campus Concentrator











Security-Based Key Features:

Performance-Based Key Features:

  • End-To-End Analytics: Improves end-to-end monitoring and network visibility using the Meraki Insight product (See, What Reporting and Management is Available Via the Cisco Meraki Portal?).
  • Performance Indicators: Symbols are used to show the health of applications, providing a visible reference to the performance of each individually. This is based on thresholds which are set by a Meraki Administrator. The indicators show green if a connection is healthy; yellow if it is compromised; and red if there are any major issues.
  • Machine-Learned Thresholds: Thresholds for web applications can be adjusted using advanced machine algorithms based on historical data patterns of the network, and performance indicators such as workloads. The product is known as SmartThresholds, and is a tool built directly into the Meraki Smart Insights dashboard (See, What Reporting and Management is Available Via the Cisco Meraki Portal?).
Service Providers

Which managed service providers offer Meraki?

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EuropeAsiaAustraliaUKNorth AmericaSouth AmericaSD WANXDRCASBZTNADIY SD WAN servicesCo-managed SD WAN servicesSASE CybersecurityMDRFWaaSSWGMPLSEndpoint protectionFile analysisIoT securitySecurity and complianceMobile threat defenceEnterprise wired and wireless LAN infrastructureSIEMSecurity service edgeCloud workload protectionIdentity governance, access managementManaged securityIntegrationsAnalyticsNetwork firewallsWAN Edge infrastructureReporting and statistics (SD WAN)SaaSCompliance reporting

What is the Cisco Meraki SASE security solution?

Meraki have historically offered integrated security options with SD WAN and today the product has matured into fully featured SD WAN capability with SASE solution deployed from Meraki MX hardware appliances. The solution auto provisions IPsec VPN tunnels between sites, with the Meraki Dashboard able to automatically negotiate encryption and automation protocols as well as VPN routes whilst also allowing clients to monitor network security. There are a number of key features:

  • Cisco Umbrella Security: Provides data loss prevention, remote browser isolation, SaaS tenant restrictions, file type and granular application control. Cisco Umbrella Security also includes a cloud access security broker (CASB) and SSL decryption & inspection. Umbrella allows clients to manage cloud security separately at branch locations, whilst also offering connectivity to a multi-cloud environment (see, How does Cisco Meraki access cloud vendors?). By bundling Umbrella products together, Meraki achieve full SASE capability.
  • Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP): Designed to detect malware and dispose of it efficiently by constantly analyzing file activity across the network.
  • Data Loss Prevention: Detects and prevents data breaches by closely monitoring sensitive data.
  • Intrusion Prevention System (IPS): Examines traffic flows to detect weaknesses and breaches within the network.
  • Next Generation Layer 7 Firewall: Blocks or authorizes traffic by examining protocol, port and state and filters traffic based on rules set by the user. It is also capable of filtering data packets based on application. 
  • SSL Decryption/Inspection: Traffic scale is decrypted and routed to inspection tools to identify threats inbound to applications.
  • CASB: Cloud-based software that maintains security policies and monitors activity between cloud users and applications.
  • SaaS Tenant Restrictions: Controls access to SaaS cloud applications by specifying which users can access tenants.
  • Granular App Control: Controls which users and/or departments can access certain applications. 
  • File Type Control: Restricts the upload and download of various file types. 
  • Cisco Talos: Cisco’s threat intelligence center monitors network security and informs the Meraki SASE solution.

Funding Rounds

Cloud Vendors

How does Cisco Meraki access cloud vendors?

Cisco Meraki uses virtualised MX appliances (vMX) to access cloud vendors. The vMX appliance can be deployed in both private and all major public clouds. The Meraki solution can provision this by providing connectivity from branch sites to vMX appliances in multicloud environments. This provides a secure connection and dynamic path selection to optimize access to mission critical resources. The vMX solution does not use any extra hardware however requires different licenses for each product. Licenses are available for 1, 3 and 5 years. The Meraki offering is as follows:

  • vMX (Small): Supports client VPN, 50 VPN tunnels and a 200Mbps VPN throughput. Cloud vendors available are: AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and Alibaba Cloud. Requires Small Enterprise Cloud Management Licence.
  • vMX (Medium): Supports client VPN, 250 VPN tunnels and a 500Mbps VPN throughput. Cloud vendors available are: AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and Alibaba Cloud. Requires Medium Enterprise Cloud Management License.
  • vMX (Large): Supports client VPN, 1000 VPN tunnels and 1Gbps VPN throughput. Cloud vendors available are: AWS and Alibaba Cloud. Requires Large Enterprise Cloud Management License.

Cisco Systems are both an AWS Marketplace Seller and Public Sector Partner. They are also Service Validated by AWS for an Amazon Linux 2 Ready Product. Cisco Meraki’s dashboard and vMX software are both available via the Microsoft Azure Marketplace with the Meraki vMX receiving a ‘preferred solution’ rating.

Cloud Access

Cloud Access

Amazon Web Services28.33
Microsoft Azure15
Google Cloud28.33
Alibaba Cloud28.33
WAN Acceleration and Optimization

Does Cisco Meraki offer WAN acceleration and optimization?

Cisco Meraki can leverage IaaS, SaaS or data center resources to ensure optimum performance of business critical applications. This is achieved through the use of advanced analysis tools that utilise smart path selection and machine learning to provide end-to-end visibility into the network.  

WAN optimization features were retired from the MX range of appliances at the end of 2015 after failing to meet quality standards. No improvements were made to the feature and was instead phased out in favour of VPN traffic optimisation as part of their IWAN offering. 

Cisco Meraki’s solution enables WAN acceleration and VPN traffic optimization through load balancing, active-active autoVPN, flow preferences and traffic shaping rules to improve the network performance.

Cisco Meraki’s SD WAN offering utilizes Automated-VPN IPsec tunnels between sites. The MX range of appliances supports multiple layers of redundancy. This includes: Warm spare failover, through the use of Virtual Routing Redundancy Protocols (VRRP), high data center availability, allowing for hub and spoke or mesh topologies. Failover is also supported by dual uplink support and 3G/4G cellular connectivity. 

Remote Users

How does Cisco Meraki support remote users?

Remote workers have various support options available from Meraki. These include: Cisco AnyConnect, Native client VPN and dedicated Wi-Fi enabled teleworking devices. Meraki’s specific teleworking devices are the Z3 and Z3C however the MX appliance is also suitable. Both internet based traffic and site-to-site traffic are secured by cloud security for out of office users, and on premises unified threat management. Meraki further supports remote users by securing networks with Cisco Umbrella Cloud Security and Cisco Talos, to provide high levels of protection anywhere.

Managed, co-managed & DIY services

What is the Cisco Meraki managed, co-managed and DIY services solution?

As a vendor, Meraki do not offer managed, co-managed or DIY services directly. Instead, managed and co-managed services are available to purchase via a channel integrator or service provider; and DIY hardware and licensing is available from a value added reseller (VAR). This can cause issues due to the huge size of the Meraki channel - finding a channel partner that can provide a solution suitable for business needs is difficult.


Managed Services Adoption

Percentage of customers opting for managed services. 


What Reporting and Management is available via the Cisco Meraki Portal?

Cisco Meraki Insights is a product that is designed to offer clients end-to-end monitoring and network visibility in one space, by analyzing web application and WAN link performance. It has the ability to monitor remote and home workers as well as those in the office. It features: 

  • Web Application Performance Monitoring: The health of web applications can be monitored via Meraki Insight, a product designed to allow clients granular network visibility by configuring a Meraki MX appliance. Traffic is aggregated into groups based on it’s associated application and is sent to the Meraki Cloud Controller product for deeper analysis. After this, data is populated into Meraki Insight, creating visibility in the network.
  • WAN Performance Monitoring: Designed to monitor ISP uplinks across the network, identifying issues such as ‘poor performance’ or ‘high usage’, keeping track of all primary, secondary and LTE uplinks in one location. Good for SD WAN deployment requiring large networks to be monitored. Data can be viewed from the WAN Health dashboard.
  • VoIP Performance Monitoring: Monitoring and analytics are also available for VoIP.
  • Smart Thresholds: Built-in by default tool with the capability to set thresholds for individual applications performance and a machine-learning algorithm that learns what level the network should perform at.
Years Active

Number of years trading

HPE Aruba20
Service Level Agreement

What is the Cisco Meraki SLA?

As an SD WAN vendor, Cisco Meraki are not required to provide Service Level Agreements. The SLA will be offered by one of the service provider partners that may manage the overlay solution.

Frequently Asked Questions
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Deployment Region

North America34%
Europe, Middle East and Africa26%
Latin America13%
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Other Focus

Remote users7
Complex requirements7
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