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Cisco Meraki vs Ubiquiti: An In-Depth Look at Some Key Distinctions

Cisco Meraki vs Ubiquiti: An In-Depth Look at Some Key Distinctions

Meraki and Ubiquiti are among the most well-regarded and widely used networking solutions in the current market. Both offer robust network management capabilities and feature-rich software packages, making them excellent network management solutions for businesses of every size.  Meraki specializes in cloud-based networking solutions. The platform gives you an intuitive user interface and a tool for simplifying network management. Ubiquiti, in contrast, reflects a more traditional networking management solution, providing an impressive array of wired and wireless products and services.  Both solutions offer powerful security features but differ considerably when it comes to scalability, compatibility, and cost. To determine a clear edge winner, this article looks at how each networking management platform stacks up regarding performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.

In the following sections, we will compare and contrast Meraki and Ubiquiti, exploring their respective strengths, weaknesses, and features. Before wrapping the discussion up, we’ll determine which of these two networking solutions provides the best overall value, establishing a clear winner by the end. 

A brief overview of Meraki and Ubiquiti

Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti account for two leading network management service and equipment providers in the world. Both organizations offer a range of products, from access points and switches to routers and firewalls. Each service comes with its own innovative solutions that help businesses create robust, secure, and reliable networks highly impervious to unplanned system downtime.  Meraki was founded in 2006 by Sanjit Biswas, John Bicket, and Hans Robertson. The company has since evolved into a leader in the cloud-managed networking services industry. The company’s networking solutions are reasonably simple to install, administer, and scale according to business demand.  The Meraki dashboard enables customers to monitor and manage their networks from any web browser. Meraki also offers a suite of security and analytics tools to help businesses protect their networks and gain insights into user and application behavior.  Ubiquiti Networks was launched in 2003 by Robert Pera. The company specializes in wireless networking solutions. Ubiquiti has a diverse range of access points and antennas in addition to routers, switches, and firewalls.

Ubiquiti’s products are known to be reliable and cost-effective, while the configuration is notably straightforward. Ubiquiti also provides software and services with a unified management platform among them. These benefits help customers monitor and manage their networks.  Both Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti offer an array of products and services to help businesses build and maintain secure networks. However, choosing the right solution for a company isn’t always the most clear-cut endeavor.  Now, with that in mind, let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison of these two powerful networking solutions. 

Cisco Meraki vs Ubiquiti: How do they compare side-by-side?

As mentioned, to the uninitiated, distinguishing between Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti can present as confusing at first. Both are among the world’s top providers of cloud-managed networking solutions. Each platform supplies its own comprehensive suite of features and services to help businesses manage their networks more efficiently. But which one is the best option for your business?  When it comes to modern technology and benefits, Cisco Meraki emerges as the clear winner. The platform comes with an extensive suite of features that include watertight security, multi-site management, and advanced analytics. The solution integrates easily with other Cisco products, making it easy to manage multiple sites under a single interface.

Ubiquiti isn’t without its advantages over Marki, however. The platform’s user interface is more intuitive, slightly easier to navigate, and is always a reliable solution for businesses operating on a thin IT budget. Ubiquiti, too, offers a fairly diverse range of hardware options. Businesses can, therefore, leverage Ubiquiti’s services to customize their networks to their specific needs.  Both options are secure and reliable, and they provide technology-dependent companies with robust networking management features. While Ubiquiti can be attractive for its simplicity and low costs, it fails to incorporate the same modern networking features encountered in the Cisco Meraki platform. 

What are the key differences between Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti?

Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti offer a comprehensive set of features that cohere to optimize the individually unique capabilities of each platform. However, a few fundamental differences between them should be noted upon evaluating the right solution for your organization.  The clearest and foremost difference between the two platforms is observed in their pricing models. Cisco Meraki is a cloud-based solution that provides a monthly subscription-based service, while Ubiquiti offers hardware and software solutions that are purchasable outright.  What this translates to is that, with Cisco Meraki, you’ll always pay a recurrent fee for access. Ubiquiti, on the other hand, asks you to purchase the hardware and software upfront. This means you’ll likely absorb a higher initial expense to integrate the software.  Another factor worth considering as you assess the two platforms is scalability. Cisco Meraki gives you access to enterprise-level scalability, letting you effortlessly add more devices and users to your network. Ubiquiti entails more of a DIY approach, in comparison. The platform places more of the burden you to customize and scale your network as needed.

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How do the licensing costs and fee structures of Meraki and Ubiquiti compare?

Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti each represent the zenith of network management platforms delivering these services today. They offer a bevy of features and advantages for businesses, but what sets them apart is their licensing fees and cost structures.  Cisco Meraki offers an annual subscription-based licensing model, where customers pay an annual fee running anywhere from $400-$1500 for access to the platform. This fee is based on the number of device endpoints connected to the network. While the Meraki model is more expensive than Ubiquiti’s, it provides more features and customization options. In contrast, Ubiquiti reflects a more traditional model of licensing, where customers pay a one-time fee for access to the platform.  Like Meraki, however, Ubiquiti’s fees are based on the number of access points and devices connected to the network. Customers can pay for these services annually.

Since the Ubiquiti platform is less expensive than Cisco Meraki’s, some regard it as less configurable. Ubiquiti lacks some of the same advanced customization options and often requires a more hands-on approach. As you weigh both options, though, remember to consider the long-term cost structure.  Meraki offers a fantastic choice for most business applications, but you still have to pay licensing fees over time. If your budget is tighter, and you believe you can sacrifice the additional features and benefits included in Merki’s platform, then Ubiquiti could be the better solution. Our experienced staff can help you conduct this analysis. 

Cisco Meraki, Ubiquiti, and SD-WAN

Both Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti are widely popular for integrating a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN). Each platform offers a multitude of features and benefits, but there are a few important differences between the two solutions that can make one more suitable than the other, depending on your operational requirements.
Cisco Meraki is a cloud-managed solution that boasts ease of use and streamlined implementation. It gives businesses like yours the ability to centrally manage multiple branch sites while offering a variety of features such as:

  • Advanced traffic routing
  • Secure remote access
  • Application-based prioritization

In addition, Meraki offers robust security features like advanced firewalling and system intrusion prevention.  On the other hand, Ubiquiti’s SD-WAN solution is a hardware-based solution engineered with customizability and scalability in mind. This is one area where the platform is slightly more flexible than Meraki.  The solution gives businesses the ability to manage multiple branch sites using a central control plane, as well as the capacity to route traffic based on application or user-defined policies. Along these same lines, Ubiquiti boasts advanced security features such as a distributed firewall and secure VPN access.

Cisco Meraki delivers a robust solution for organizations that need an easy-to-use technology, while Ubiquiti’s SD-WAN is ideal for organizations that demand more customization features and scalability. Ultimately, the right platform for your business depends on your specific needs and objectives. A certified networking technician can assist in determining which platform is right for you.

Ubiquiti vs Cisco: Which platform is the decided winner?

After hashing through the finer details, it should become clear that Meraki is the more favorable choice for businesses that can incur the slightly higher costs associated with maintaining the platform. From its ease of setup and use to its scalability and cloud-managed services, Meraki offers significant advantages over Ubiquiti.  Meraki’s intuitive user interface, advanced security features, and its range of compatible hardware and applications make it an ideal choice for companies in need of a robust network management solution.  While Ubiquiti’s undoubtedly a good option for small businesses grappling with strict budget constraints, its limited scalability, lack of cloud management, and considerably more basic security features make its counterpart Cisco Meraki the obvious choice for the vast majority of business applications.  Meraki is decidedly the better solution for most organizations, particularly larger businesses, that need an efficient and robust networking solution that’s straightforward enough to use and can scale with their operations.

Exploring Cisco Meraki: Brochures, Licensing, and More

Take a look at the following brochures to learn more about Cisco Meraki’s products and services:

Looking for a reliable and secure way to manage your networks?

Consider partnering with PCH Technologies, a certified Meraki partner. Our decades of expertise and leading-edge Meraki solutions help businesses like yours get the most out of their digital environments. From designing and deploying a powerful network to ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting, PCH Technologies is here to guide you through every step of the way.  To discover more about how we can streamline your IT and eliminate organizational complexity, contact PCH Technologies now by dialing (856) 754-7500. Or, to schedule a free discovery call, visit us online today and leave us your information. We’ll review your details and have a Cisco Meraki specialist reach out to you straight away to discuss pricing.