Meraki Adds Wireless Security Veteran To Management Team


Networking upstart Meraki has hired a longtime wireless security executive to head up strategy, a role that will be crucial as Meraki pushes upmarket and continues to gain influence among wired and wireless networking solution providers.

Todd Nightingale joined Meraki a few weeks ago as vice president, strategy and solutions architecture, reporting to CEO Sanjit Biswas, the company confirmed to CRN.

Nightingale was most recently general manager for the AirDefense unit of Motorola Solutions, focused on wireless security for enterprise and retail customers. He ran product development for AirDefense prior to its 2008 acquisition by Motorola.

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Nightingale described his move as a "no-brainer."

"It's unbelievable to hear what customers have said about Meraki," he told CRN. "This is a simple, straightforward way to build powerful networks without hiring a huge team of networking people. We're going to make Meraki a bigger name in the networking stack."

"The proliferation of tablets and mobile devices are causing enterprises to rethink their networks. Todd's executive experience architecting solutions for the world's largest enterprises will be invaluable as we develop new solutions for this market," Biswas said in a statement.

Founded in 2006 and based in San Francisco, Meraki began life as a wireless LAN specialist but, in 2010 branched out into network security appliances, and earlier this year entered the Ethernet switching market. It's taken in about $80 million in venture funding and is frequently mentioned as a potential IPO candidate.

Key to its appeal is cloud management; Meraki customers use the same hosted management software, set up and controlled via an Internet-accessible dashboard, for all of its products, from systems to switching and security.

"People want to deploy distributed enterprise networks easily," Nightingale said. "If we can make it easier by being a one-stop shop, then all the better. I think what Meraki has right now is a really complete solution."

Meraki's continued to fine-tune the centralized management aspect. Its MS Ethernet switches, for example, are enabled for "virtual stacking," in which administrators can manage thousands of switch ports on switches that are in different physical locations. Meraki's most recent update, at the end of July, added more features, including Layer 7 visibility to the switches and WAN optimization to its MX security appliances.

Nightingale said he's known Meraki's co-founders -- Biswas, CTO John Bicket and VP of Product Management Hans Robertson -- since their days at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Meraki's technology is partly based on an MIT project called Roofnet, an experimental 802.11 mesh network.

Nightingale spent his first few weeks meeting with Meraki customers and partners, including its top 20 solution providers. His team will be focused on training more Meraki partners but also increasing Meraki's win rate in bigger, more strategic enterprise deals.

Meraki sells about 98 percent through solution providers and has north of 1,000 global partners. It updated its partner program last fall to include deal registration.

"The cloud, in large part, makes the selling of the Meraki gear so much easier than other networking gear," he said. "So we're investing in training and support for our partners to go out and sell it -- arming them with everything we can."

PUBLISHED AUG. 13, 2012