Meraki MX Review

A good firewall solution for small companies with a small IT department or no IT staff at all

What is our primary use case?

Our primary use is perhaps a little unusual. Many of our clients like the product, or want to consider the product, and we own it so that we can do valid product comparison and testing.

How has it helped my organization?

These particular firewalls are a very good solution for a company that doesn't have an IT employee working directly on IT. For small companies with no IT department, it is very user-friendly. 

What is most valuable?

The feature I find most valuable is the auto VPN. That is because it is really easy to configure and it's really reliable. The way we do traffic shaping and the way we block trafficking, it's very easy to configure. It is also easy for clients to maintain even without IT employees.

What needs improvement?

The product could improve most by improving the client VPN. The auto VPN works for site-to-site but they have an issue with the client VPN. For example, if I connect the client VPN, I cannot block clients for specific access inside of the company. Because of the limitation, you need to make a rule for everyone and it's not very easy to do. What you really want is to have a specific client VPN with specific (fine-grained) access to different areas.

One other thing that they should have to improve product utility is some kind of templates.  For example, templates for configuration of use in a vertical market would be useful.

They have a very good product. If you contact technical support, they should already know more about your methods and your needs. Management of the firewall is on the cloud and to be so easy for the user to configure, they remove some of the more complicated options. If you want an option, you need to contact support in order to enable it. They could have, for example, a different dashboard for more advanced features that you would be responsible to pay more for.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this product for about five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is very stable. We don't have a measurable percentage of return on the equipment.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We don't have big clients that need to scale a lot. Our biggest clients have five firewalls. At most, we are talking about 200 users all on the same side under the same firewall. We don't do much scaling.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is very good. Anytime we ask about some issue that we cannot solve we send an email for Meraki and receive a reply in minutes. 

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

We are installing Sophos for clients as well. Because we had so many clients interested in the capabilities of the Meraki products, it was time for us to know more about the client needs and how we could help them. If they want everything integrated, like antivirus, the products are implemented differently and may be more fitting to the client's situation depending on the client's needs. 

In our organization, we only have one Meraki firewall. I bought an MX to explore using this product for customers.

How was the initial setup?

The installation is straightforward. With Cisco Meraki, it takes only half-an-hour. For very specific, customized rules that some clients want it takes more time. The standard firewall working with regular rules would take one-hour maximum.

What about the implementation team?

We are certified by Cisco. As we are certified technicians we do the installations. We do it with a two-person crew deployed to our clients.

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

We are using the advanced Meraki license. We pay on a monthly basis. The cost depends on the size of the company, of course. The prices of all different brands — Cisco, Sophos, Palo Alto, FortiGate, Check Point — are almost the same. We are talking about a maximum of 10% difference. If you do a very good comparison, they are very similar in functionality and price.

Every brand has its own licensing model. Cisco has two different license types. Sophos has more license types and modules that you can put on your firewall like FortiGate and Check Point. Of course, if you want more features, you have to pay for it. If you want the basic models, it is much cheaper. So it is very difficult to say. The price can increase with basic models if you need to add on, but if you buy with a total protection license, you don't have additional costs but the initial costs are higher.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Every time we consider introducing a new brand here in the company, we need to evaluate it very well. If you mix a lot of brands, you need a broader knowledge base and more technical guys to give you support. I need a guy to understand Sophos, I need a guy to understand Cisco. If I support installations of another brand, I need more people who have a specialty in that new brand.

We looked into Palo Alto, we needed to know more about that solution. We had a meeting one year ago with Check Point. We decided to keep on working with Sophos and Cisco Meraki.

What other advice do I have?

I would give this solution about an eight out of ten. They can buy the brand directly or from a partner. They need to consider performance. I have to be totally honest about Meraki. Because of the client VPN, the lack of an easy way to implement templates with Meraki, that's really only enough for an eight.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

MX 60
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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