For past couple of years, there’s been a battle raging in the enterprise-WiFi space. There are several promising wireless vendors out there, but each one had definite strengths and weaknesses. Wireless network administrators have had the difficult decision of having to choose which features they desired more, at the expense of others.
For example, if you were only concerned only with wireless performance, coverage and capacity, many chose a vendor like Ruckus Wireless, whose WiFi hardware/software is carefully engineered to squeeze the most out of a single wireless access point. But the trade-off is that their controller-based management was a bit clunky and un-intuitive to use.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Meraki has a very innovative and easy-to-use cloud-based network management system. Unfortunately, the wireless performance from their hardware is only slightly above consumer-grade from my personal experience running passive and active surveys on nearly all of the latest enterprise-class wireless hardware.
Sitting in the middle has been Cisco, who has decent performance from their hardware and an above average controller-based interface GUI. But being average at everything means that Cisco is losing plenty of customers that value either WiFi performance or manageability. And in typical Cisco fashion, if they want something, they go out and buy it. And that”s exactly what happened, as Cisco Systems recently announced the acquisition of Meraki for $1.2 billion in cash.
Cisco is now setting in a very good position in the enterprise-wireless space. The company now has the ability to integrate their current WiFi hardware with Meraki’s amazingly slick cloud management solution. It’s upped the ante for sure and it puts the pressure directly on competitors like Ruckus Wireless, Aerohive and Aruba Networks to step up their game. And for those of us that are wireless network administrators, this type of competition means better products at a lower cost to us. Competition is a very good thing.