Cisco Takes Aim At Cradlepoint, Enters New Market With Meraki Cellular Gateway

‘I think this will be the fastest-launching Meraki product of all time,’ Cisco Meraki SVP Todd Nightingale tells partners at Cisco Partner Summit 2019.

Cisco has been filling a gap in its Meraki portfolio that partners have been plugging with Cradlepoint cellular gateways.

"We need to all be honest. For too long, we have walked Cradlepoints into our accounts -- into Cisco accounts," said Todd Nightingale, Cisco Meraki's senior vice president and general manager.

At Cisco Partner Summit 2019, Nightingale unveiled the Meraki Gateway MG21, a brand-new product line for Cisco Meraki. The Meraki Gateway is a wireless WAN cellular gateway that connects cellular and wireless technology, including LTE and Wi-Fi 6, and gives businesses one place to provision and manage their connectivity.

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"I think this will be the fastest-launching Meraki product of all time," Nightingale told an audience of 3,000 channel partners on Tuesday.

[Related: New Cisco DevNet Specialization Will Promote Partners With Competitive Advantage In Software Development]

The MG21 is built on the Cisco Meraki dashboard for simplicity for partners and end users, Nightingale said. "This is exactly what customers have been asking for," he added.

Nightingale also unveiled MS390, a next-generation access switch that was two years in the making. That's because the latest switch combines the software that Meraki is known for with Cisco's existing switching innovation from its flagship Catalyst line.

"This is the most powerful, most advanced Cisco Meraki switch built," he said. "Not only will it include the simplicity of the Meraki dashboard for management and monitoring, but for the first time, it will launch with hardware features only available on Cisco Switches, like secure group tagging."

The San Jose, Calif.-based tech giant has injected new security features into the Cisco Meraki product line, including the introduction of Meraki Trusted Access, a feature that provides device authentication without the need for a mobile device management product. The product line has also been bolstered with DNS traffic protection and content filtering powered by Cisco Umbrella and enhanced Security Appliance Firewall rules, according to the company.

The new offerings and features that have been baked into the Cisco Meraki product line will help partners address a broader market and engage with their customers on a deeper level, Nightingale said.

Computex Technology Solutions, a Cisco Gold Quad Master-level partner which sells Meraki, said that the new solutions and added features close a gap in the Cisco Meraki portfolio, said Faisal Bhutto, Houston-based Computex's executive vice president of enterprise networking, cloud and cybersecurity.

"Finally, Cisco Meraki is working closely with the Cisco Enterprise Networking team and bringing in things like security group tags that they've been lacking," Bhutto said. "Our customers are liking the single pane of glass management, but Meraki switching in the past has lacked some of that enterprise feature set."

The MS390 switch and MG21 will be available for ordering in Cisco's second fiscal quarter of 2020.