Meraki Takes Wired Network Routers to the Cloud

By Sean Michael Kerner

January 13, 2011

New cloud managed wired networking router debuts from Wi-Fi vendor, alongside a new subscription model for hardware.

The traditional enterprise network pays for routers that are then typically managed via the corporate LAN or VPN. Wi-Fi networking vendor Meraki is now aiming to challenge the traditional model of management and acquisition of wired routers with a new cloud-based subscription service for router management and hardware.

The new Meraki cloud-managed MX50 and MX70 routers include application firewalls as well as traffic shaping features. As opposed to traditional router deployments, the MX50 and MX70 routers are managed via a cloud service deployed by Meraki.

"Organizations have used MPLS tunnels, leased line and other types of high cost dedicated links between branches to connect them all," Kiren Sekar, director of marketing at Meraki told InternetNews.com. "The Meraki device is designed to use commodity Internet connections."

Meraki had previously focused its efforts on offering Wi-Fi management via the cloud and is now extending the model to wired routers.

The MX50 has four 1000 Base-T (1 gigabit Ethernet) ports with an additional 1000 Base-T WAN interface. The MX50 is intended for small office of up to 20 users and provides stateful firewall throughput of 100 Mbps. In contrast, the MX70 is a more robust device with two WAN interfaces, four LAN ports and 400 Mbps of stateful firewall throughput.

The underlying operating system in the MX50 and MX70 router is a customized Linux base that Meraki has enhanced.

"The software on the device is proprietary, it is Linux-based, but it's actually firmware and software that we developed," Sekar said.

The management side of the Meraki MX50 and MX70 resides in the cloud, as a service managed by Meraki. Sekar noted that users will have to use the Meraki infrastructure and can't host the management in their own private enterprise cloud.

"That's a trade-off we made because of the things we do to modify, tune and upgrade our system, which is so fast," Sekar said. "We make updates to the service several times a day -- these can be minor performance enhancements, bug fixes or major new features."

The way that Meraki is selling the new MX50 and MX70 routers is also a bit different than traditional router vendors. Sekar explained that both the hardware and the cloud management service are being offered on a subscription model starting at approximately $35 per router a month, or $400 a year.

"The customer owns the router, but if they decide to stop their subscription the hardware will stop working, after a grace period," Sekar said. "There is no upfront cost, you pay on a per year basis and if you decide not to renew you can do that."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.



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