Customers often struggle with transitioning an on-premises network to one managed in the cloud. One reason is that it’s hard to justify replacing gear still working properly and buying new hardware. Many Cisco partners can attest to this dilemma when they encounter prospects with environments that include a combination of Catalyst and Meraki switches and access points (APs) deployed.
Cisco recently announced a solution that makes your customer’s migration to the cloud easier and less costly by enabling select Cisco Catalyst 9200, 9300 and 9500 series switches to be monitored and managed with the Meraki Dashboard.
Additionally, Cisco has released new 9100 series wireless APs, including CW9164 and CW9166 (CW9162 coming soon), that are orderable with Meraki or DNA management persona options. This new convertible hardware allows flexibility post-deployment, allowing a customer to move from DNA Catalyst managed or Meraki Cloud managed while retaining the same AP hardware.
A vital component of this migration is the support of DNA subscriptions. Both DNA Essentials and DNA Advantage are leveraged with Meraki cloud monitoring. This helps provide new ways to leverage the DNA subscriptions purchased with Catalyst switches that might have otherwise been unrealized if a DNA Center appliance wasn’t in place.
Onboarding the Catalyst switches for monitoring is a straightforward process. Here’s how it works:
- Download and run the onboarding application, which can be found here.
- Make sure your Catalyst equipment can reach the Cisco Cloud.
- Your Catalyst gear will appear in the Meraki Dashboard, just like any other Meraki switch or AP.
Once it’s in the cloud, the Catalyst hardware will be automatically tagged with “Monitor Only” in the dashboard to distinguish it from fully managed Meraki switches, and they can be accessed with the click of a button. Some of the cloud-monitoring capabilities the Meraki Dashboard offers include:
Weighing the pros and cons of migrating to the Meraki Dashboard
- View connectivity for all your device ports
- Check out historical device data on a per-port basis
- View configurations
- Perform basic troubleshooting, such as cycling ports
The option available today is the monitoring
of select Catalyst switches. A future option, expected in late 2022, will be the ability to convert Catalyst switches to be fully managed
within the Meraki Dashboard. The C9300 will be the first model with a fully managed option.
After moving switches to the Meraki Dashboard, your customers will lose a few previous features, such as locally managing their devices via the command line interface (CLI). So, for clients who prefer the CLI’s depths of control and scripting capabilities, this may be an obstacle.
For a more in-depth comparison of Cisco-managed and Meraki-managed devices, look at the Meraki MS390 switch, which operates like a Catalyst 9300 switch monitored in the Meraki Dashboard. Additionally, you can contact Ingram Micro’s Business Transformation Center (BTC)
to schedule a hands-on demo—in-person or remote.
Another critical point of consideration is comparing the on-premises physical server requirements and costs associated with Catalyst DNA Center vs. Meraki Dashboard, which has no hardware requirements.
Cloud monitoring for Catalyst provides an investment protection option for your customers, allowing them to continue using their Catalyst switches and wireless hardware while migrating to the cloud at their own pace.
This new opportunity also creates a competitive advantage for partners. For example, when customers are forced to replace equipment to enable cloud migration, they may shop around for a less expensive competitor. In addition, cloud monitoring for Catalyst makes it more appealing to continue using the Cisco hardware they’ve already purchased with less cost and disruption to their business than switching to another vendor.
Don’t forget the BTC is an invaluable resource available to you and your customer to discuss these options and set up a demo, so you and your customer can make an informed decision that best meets their needs.