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Buyer's Guide
Juniper Contrail Networking vs. Meraki SD-WAN
September 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about Juniper Contrail Networking vs. Meraki SD-WAN and other solutions. Updated: September 2022.
633,184 professionals have used our research since 2012.

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Senior Product Manager at a comms service provider with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Known for ease of use and ubiquitous management platform that covers everything, but has some limitations and is not as robust as some of the other vendors
Pros and Cons
  • "They're known for their ease of use and ubiquitous management platform that covers everything. Meraki really excels in plug-and-play solutions. You just plug it up, and everything works. All of the components—the firewall/router, the switches, the access points, the cameras—work very nicely together, and they all can be managed from one platform. That is probably their biggest selling point. Everything comes in one ubiquitous package, and you don't have to manage different components from different platforms. You can see everything from one platform."
  • "From the vice perspective, they just are not as robust as some of the other vendors. They have limitations in throughput and the number of circuits that they can support on a wide area network. Their higher-end security is all cloud-based. They have some capability with the premise-based solutions, but the higher ends are all cloud-based, and that's via Cisco Umbrella."

What is our primary use case?

I work for a carrier, and we consume, resell, and integrate Cisco products. I'm a product manager, and I have a couple of products that are built around Cisco Meraki's offerings. One of them is a managed business wifi solution, and the other one is an SD-WAN solution. I own both of these products. 

Meraki is really big in retail and education, and that's where we see a lot of use cases. It is a low-cost or entry product. It is not a sophisticated, complete solution. People who are very concerned about the total cost of ownership will look at a Meraki solution more. 

The deployment is a combination. The orchestration is on a public cloud, and then the customer locations are all premise-based Meraki devices.

What is most valuable?

They're known for their ease of use and ubiquitous management platform that covers everything. Meraki really excels in plug-and-play solutions. You just plug it up, and everything works. All of the components—the firewall/router, the switches, the access points, the cameras—work very nicely together, and they all can be managed from one platform. That is probably their biggest selling point. Everything comes in one ubiquitous package, and you don't have to manage different components from different platforms. You can see everything from one platform.

What needs improvement?

From the vice perspective, they just are not as robust as some of the other vendors. They have limitations in throughput and the number of circuits that they can support on a wide area network. Their higher-end security is all cloud-based. They have some capability with the premise-based solutions, but the higher ends are all cloud-based, and that's via Cisco Umbrella.

Their support can be better. They do not offer a lot of hands-on support for their products.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have probably been using this solution for three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

From the stability perspective, everybody is pretty much on the same level playing field. I don't really see anybody standing out more than anybody else. Meraki is a low-cost equipment provider, so they're not offering big metal devices that plug into racks and a data center. They're more along the lines of the hard plastic desktop type of units. They have the same meantime between failure as most other products, so it's difficult to put them above or below anybody else. They all are pretty much on the same level playing field.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is good as long as you're doing a simple task. If you're just deploying SD-WAN and you're not putting in cameras, wifi access points, and a lot of different components, scalability is really good. From that perspective, they do well. Their niche is retail and education, and both of these areas can be very large networks depending on the provider.

We do not have plans to increase its usage. They are really premise-based solutions that are managed from the network, and we are not staying with that same type of approach in our product lines. We are moving to a fully-integrated network approach to security, connectivity, and management.

How are customer service and support?

I would rate them one out of five. They do not offer a lot of hands-on support for their products.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We use three or four other SD-WAN providers to offer the same type of product. We have VeloCloud, Fortinet, and Versa. The main differences are more capabilities, more functionality, better support, better value, and a better total cost of ownership.

How was the initial setup?

Everything is plug-and-play. If you're using all Meraki components, it is very easy to deploy.

The deployment duration is very short. There are not a lot of design concerns. There is not a lot of configuration. Everything can be done over the air from a network-based platform. So, it is very easy and very fast to deploy.

What was our ROI?

We've created a lot of things internally to compare different vendors and different technologies. From a customer perspective, I don't really do ROIs for evaluating vendors, but I'm familiar with the ROI. It really varies. There are other vendors that are also considered low-cost that technically perform better than Meraki. So, from a comparison perspective, it's difficult to know if you've got a better ROI with one vendor versus another without really understanding what it is that you're trying to accomplish.

Some customers may put a high value on ease of management, ease of deployment, and ease of managing and monitoring. Meraki does a decent job at all of that, whereas other companies may put a higher value on the features and functionality, security, and other things that are inherent to other products. Therefore, it is difficult to put them into a single bucket or category. From a low-cost provider perspective, their ROI for a customer is probably in line with that category of vendors.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

They have a baseline software license, and then they've got an SD-WAN software license, and then they've got an advanced security software license. 

They're low cost, and they'll provide any amount of flexibility that you want from a modeling perspective for payment. Typically, it's either annually or multi-year, but they are a lower-cost company. They're not the most expensive by far.

There is an additional cost of the equipment that doesn't tend to be high.

What other advice do I have?

Meraki is known as a lower-end SD-WAN solution. It has limitations from the hardware and the software perspective. They've gotten better over the years, but they were always viewed as a low-cost or entry type of product. They don't do a lot of the more sophisticated features and functionality of some of the other SD-WAN providers.

From a customer perspective, it really depends on:

  • What are they looking for?
  • What are they concerned about?
  • Do they have any other products?
  • Are they using any other security mechanism and is it network-based or premise-based?

It is just about what fits into their network and what they're currently using.

I would advise having a good understanding of the physical requirements for the facility that it's being deployed. You should have a good understanding of what you need from a component perspective, such as extra switches or extra access points. That's probably the biggest thing. There are other products for which you may have to pay a little bit more, but they are going to be better performing, and they will give you better service. So, you need to understand, especially if you're going with a low-cost vendor, that you might end up having to pay more because you had to add more components to the solution.

I would put it a little bit over halfway. I would rate it a six out of 10. It is certainly a good product. They have a lot of basic features and functionality. They can provide a good solution, but you may end up having to pay more than what you anticipated to get everything that you want because they don't include as much as some of the other vendors.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
Juniper Contrail Networking vs. Nuage Networks
September 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about Juniper Contrail Networking vs. Nuage Networks and other solutions. Updated: September 2022.
633,184 professionals have used our research since 2012.