Ethica CloudAccess SDN vs Cisco Meraki SDN
Here at Ethica, we know we aren’t the only ones out there offering SDN services. We get it—competition is good and necessary. We’re confident that CloudAccess technology stacks up favourably compared to the other options available on the open market. In this post, we’ll talk about Cisco SDN (powered by Meraki). We’re a little biased, but we think you’ll find a lot of value in the CloudAccess product offering.
Meraki SDN – Upsell sticky trap
Let’s start by thinking about how SDN is delivered. The Cisco SDN product is delivered via its MX appliances, a “thick” approach to SDN and security (so-called because it involves custom hardware purchased from the vendor as opposed to a commodity box). This is beneficial if you want to go all-in on the Cisco product suite (Umbrella, Duo, etc.) but does represent a limitation of the service. Customers are licensed at the MX-device level based on three service tiers ranging from basic SDN functionality right up to the full package, which includes advanced analytics, segmentation powered by tagging, and “smart SaaS quality of experience” (whatever that means).
Meraki SDN…or is it?
The Cisco offering suffers from some important limitations. For one, some of its basic SDN functionality doesn’t stack up. Failover time between links, which is an essential feature if you’d like to ensure consistent uptime, is subpar at best, with Meraki only recently advertising sub-second failover, and not even in all cases. WAN failover time is listed in documentation at “300 seconds or less.” That’s five whole minutes! Application flow visibility is rudimentary; the service is limited to a maximum of two WAN links; there is no provision for LTE inclusion in a tunnel. Many other features seem rather basic as well. The Insights offering is simple and of limited utility, displaying essentials like uptime, throughput, and jitter, but without providing other important details that an admin might care about, like CPU utilization. We wondered if this add-on is even worth the price. Speaking of which…
SDN for Small Business
The advantages of CloudAccess
We know what you’re thinking—”that Cisco solution sounds decent, but it’s not quite what we’re looking for as a tool to power our smaller organization.” (To learn more about Ethica’s approach to small businesses, check out our Small Business Framework and see where you fit.) Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.
CloudAccess is highly functional. Unlike Meraki, CloudAccess allows you to bond LTE connections, supports multiple WAN links, and promises much faster failover. The CloudAccess Orchestrator also offers a simple, intuitive, and useful web-based platform for managing sites and controllers, including a comprehensive site-level dashboard that tracks, well, pretty much anything you might care about.
This includes bond service uptime, the packet loss rate, throughput over time, round trip time, packet loss, RAM and CPU utilization—the list goes on.
And all these features come at a significantly reduced cost. While it’s true that the Cisco solution offers significant integration with the suite of Cisco services that might be more suitable for a larger enterprise, CloudAccess is a great fit for smaller organizations. There’s no “setup fee” or anything like that, and we keep costs for our resellers low, passing the savings on to customers. Most end customers won’t pay more than about $50/month for CloudAccess services. The CloudAccess CPE costs only about $350 USD, and if you’re looking to resell the service or manage your own controller, a redundant pair is about $1500. Not bad, eh?
SDN is not just for Enterprise
CloudAccess is a reasonably priced alternative to Cisco’s SDN (powered by Meraki). While some customers might find the integrations and additional features offered by Cisco to be worth the extra cost, in our experience, most of those customers are larger organizations. For nano-, micro-, or mini-enterprises, CloudAccess is a functional solution that gets the fundamentals right, offers a strong set of analytics tools, and won’t break the bank. If you’re looking for network confidence, look no further.
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