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Meraki was founded by members of MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science. Meraki combines a high-velocity software development methodology with a tightly linked inside sales and channel model that will form the new Cloud Networking Group. The firm has offices in New York, London and Mexico. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of Cisco's 2013 fiscal year.
Meraki's Front-End Connection
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, said there is a market for an alternative type of deployment model. He pointed to Aruba's success with its proprietary solution, dubbed Instant, as one example.
Most of the start-ups in the space, including Meraki and Aerohive, have all built controller-less access solutions, Kerravala told us. "Clearly there's a market for controller-less solutions and Cisco didn't have one. Even with Cisco's excellent sales force, I think they were getting shut out at some companies looking for an alternative solution. That's one of the reasons this acquisition was appealing."
So the question then is why Cisco decided to acquire Meraki versus Aerohive. Most people think of Meraki as a Wi-Fi vendor, but Kerravala said Meraki is better described as a cloud-managed vendor that happens to sell Wi-Fi as its primary product.
"Meraki also has cloud-managed switches and cloud-managed security devices. If you put your long-term hat on, Cisco is interested in the cloud-management capability for the rest of its product line," Kerravala said.
"Cisco rolled out the onePK product," Kerravala said, referring to the One Platform Kit which Cisco introduced in June as part of its Open Network Environment solution. OnePK provides APIs for developers across Cisco operating systems.
And, Kerravala said, Cisco already has the "back-end interface to allow cloud management of their switches. What they don't have is the front-end tool. Meraki gives them that."