Cisco Cloud Managed Switches: Would You Use Them For Surveillance?

In our recent Favorite Network Switches for Surveillance 2015 survey, one member mentioned Meraki, now a Cisco company, as their favorite.

Meraki's big claim is cloud-based management of their switches, security appliances, and WAPs. So for offsite monitoring and configuration, you don't need to set up remote access.

They are more expensive than the typical Cisco switch used in surveillance, though. An 8 port PoE switch is about $850 online. A 300 series PoE switch is about $240.

So the question:

Are there specific deployments this would be more suited to? Or is the answer a simple "no"?

I looked at them quite closely before they were crushed purchased by Cisco. They had a good looking product line and great management features (remote or not). Simple and effective yet powerful.

I bought a Linksys WRT 1900AC for my home a while back which can ONLY be managed remotly through This disturbed me at first, but sure enough when I wanted to get to it from away from home it was quite handy.

So maybe remotely manageable networking devices is the way of the future.

In this industry, however, it seems that many integrators already use something like GoToMyPC to remotely access and maintain VMS systems--at which point you could probably also do LAN based network management if necessary. So it may not be worth the cost.

I worked at a company that sold them prior to the Cisco purchase. They were solid switches at the time with a great set of easily accessible features. Meraki truly made it simple to configure network equipment because their interface was light years ahead of even SMB Cisco/HP product (SG300/500 series or 1920). I have not kept up on them post-Cisco merger and the price has definitely skyrocketed. The WAN access requirement is likely to be a non-starter for many.

While Logmein, VPNs with RDP, and other VNC based options are great those are only functional if you can get to the equipment that hosts them.

The price nowadays I think would keep it out of reach of integrators that are not working on enterprise or other large scale projects. In an enterprise if the choice involved Cisco iOS CLI product and hiring a CCNA/CCNP/CCIE to design/configure I would choose Meraki.

We have a customer that provides their own switches (Meraki) that we deploy cameras and Genetec on, and they work just as well as any other switches we've deployed on. It really shouldnt matter whether its Meraki, Aruba, or any other number of cloud-managed switches as far as the VMS or cameras go... switching is so built around standards, I can't see it being right/wrong/different than anything else.

The question isn't so much whether it's right/wrong to use Meraki, it's whether pricing is prohibitive or the cloud management features are a compelling feature.

If you are a Cisco/Meraki dealer, the pricing is not prohibitive vs true Cisco switches (not the crappy small business rebadges Linksys ones).

The yearly subscription isnt that expensive, however if you don't keep your subscription up to date, you could end up temporarily being the manager of a ton of bricks that don't pass traffic, until you re-up your subscription.

Also another big advantage is the Meraki management portal is really slick for management, especially if you arent a Cisco CLI warrior.

Also just noticed my poll didn't work right. Fixed that now.

Most of our larger customers networks have no WAN access so I am not sure Meraki would be a good fit. I am asuming these switches need to have WAN access for the cloud-management to work? yes/no

I am asuming these switches need to have WAN access for the cloud-management to work? yes/no.

Bump this question. Are these switches totally unconfigurable or even inoperable, without cloud access? Where is the button to do a cloud factory reset?

To answer Michael's question, this is the only unfortunate thing about using Meraki for surveillance networks. Without a connection to Meraki's Cloud Controller, they are unconfigurable. They will continue to function as configured before they lost connectivity, but they will cease to operate when their license subscription runs out if they don't connect back to the Cloud Controller.

Meraki has deployed "private clouds" for a few enterprise customers (think federal government-size), but even a large surveillance customer like a big city or casino probably wouldn't meet the threshold required to make that happen.

Hi Ethan, Funny you should ask this question. I have been driving myself crazy over it for the last month because at "My Day Job" (we recently outsourced our IT department) they want to redo all of our switches to a Meraki Backbone topology. They also want to replace all of our camera switches at the same time. They want to use VLANs so that they can share the POE ports to power access points with the switches. "They Know what they are doing" so I trust that I will wind up with better throughput. I have been trying to compute how much bandwidth I really need; we run Milestone and I can't seem to figure out how much bandwidth the client takes.

FWIW, here is a spreadsheet of Cisco 300 series with POE, and Meraki 200 Series. In the Cisco, the SF means 10/100 and the SG meaeans 10/100/1000. All of the Meraki are Gigbit ports... Oh, and BTW, Cisco owns Meraki... on these switches all ports are POE

Manufacturer Model Number POE Ports 64 bit mpps Max Gbps POE Power
Cisco SF302-08P 8 4.17 5.6 62W
Cisco SF302-08PP 8 4.17 5.6 62W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SF302-08MP 8 4.17 5.6 124W
Cisco SF302-08MPP 8 4.17 5.6 124W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SF300-24P 24 9.52 12.8 180W
Cisco SF300-24PP 24 9.52 12.8 180W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SF300-24MP 24 9.52 12.8 375W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SF300-48P 48 13.1 17.6 375W
Cisco SF300-48PP 48 13.1 17.6 375W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SG300-10P 8 14.88 20 62W
Cisco SG300-10PP 8 14.88 20 62W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SG300-10MP 8 14.88 20 124W
Cisco SG300-10MPP 8 14.88 20 124W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SG300-28P 24 41.67 56 180W
Cisco SG300-28PP 24 41.67 56 180W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SG300-28MP 24 41.67 56 375W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SG300-52P 48 77.38 104 375W (PoE+ supported)
Cisco SG300-52MP 48 77.38 104 740W (PoE+ supported)
Meraki MS220-8P 8 na 20 124W
Meraki MS220-24P 24 na 48 370W
Meraki MS220-48LP 48 na 104 370W
Meraki MS220-48FP 48 na 104 740W

If somebody outside the tent is managing gear why isn't it the integrator. "Why are you walking away from that revenue opportunity." (famous last words.)