Cisco Catalyst switches get Meraki cloud management

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Cisco is taking a major step toward bringing a full cloud-managed enterprise networking solution to market by connecting its Catalyst switching and wireless hardware to the Meraki dashboard.

They will offer Catalyst switch users three steps on the journey to the cloud:

  1. Cloud monitoring capabilities for select Catalyst switches
  2. Cloud manageable Wi-Fi 6E access points to specific Catalyst wireless devices
  3. Fully cloud-managed access networks that combine Catalyst and Meraki.

“Not every customer’s journey to the cloud is going to be the same,” Chris Stori, SVP and GM of Cisco Networking Experiences, said ahead of the company’s Cisco Live 2022 event. But, “almost all customers have in some way embraced the cloud already.”

Stori joined Cisco through the Meraki acquisition, which Cisco bought as a way to improve its WLAN and cloud networking business. Stori touted Meraki as “a fantastic example” of the power of the cloud and “hundreds and hundreds of 1,000s of customers that are now using it to manage their networks.”

Bringing this cloud management to Catalyst users, Cisco claims it will improve IT operations’ efficiency, reduce infrastructure costs and complexity, and enable a smoother journey to the cloud, especially benefiting those in a hybrid cloud environment.

Cisco's fixed enterprise access switches get cloud monitoring

Cisco launched the cloud monitoring service with its fixed enterprise access switching platform first, including its 9200, 9300, and 9500 switch series. Next, the company will add this capability to its Catalyst modular switches, such as the 9400 and 9600 series. Finally, monitoring for Catalyst Access Points will be available through Cisco’s DNA Center by the end of next year.

The service will bring more visibility of a complete hybrid network all in one single pane of glass through the Meraki dashboard experience, making troubleshooting much faster, Stori claims.

“Now you’re going to be able to pipe all of those monitoring data giving you visibility, giving you alerting capabilities, giving you troubleshooting capabilities into the Meraki cloud, incredibly important for hybrid customers, or also customers that are looking to journey to the cloud but aren’t ready to move away from on-premise management today,” Stori explained.

Meraki management for hybrid cloud

Cisco expects it will be a multi-year journey to bring the entire list of Catalyst 9000 switching lines into the Meraki cloud. It started with the Catalyst 9300 series and then will move to the 9200 and 9500 series.

It brings consistent network management practices with global scale and plug-and-play operations, the company claims. Catalyst users who have a Cisco DNA Center license can get the cloud-management service for free.

“What we are bringing out in early field trials, is the ability to take that existing device that you have and migrate it into the cloud so you don’t have to buy a new piece of hardware, and if you’re licensed we’ll move that license over,” Stori said.

Prior to launching this service, Cisco Catalyst switches were managed either through the command-line interface (CLI) or DNA Center, which are both deployed on-premise. For customers who choose to keep key applications on-premises, they can use the DNA Center either on physical, on-premises appliances or use the newly-launched virtual appliance capability for virtual machine (VM) instances in private data centres or cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“It makes it easier on your IT staff. Rather than having to worry about the hard disk going down, you have that flexibility and it just makes it easier, especially for maybe a remote site to be able to have a virtual appliance deployed,” Stori said.

For fully-managed Meraki cloud customers, they will be able to take advantage of core catalyst networking in their Meraki cloud through the cloud-management service.

“Meraki customers now are also going to start to see the benefits of that Catalyst 9K switching line over the next few years as we bring them in. Because now you’re going to be able to do the same things, you can now tap into that power of the 9300 and be able to use that in your network and do secure tagging and run adaptive policy,” he added.

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