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Cisco's wireless chief: Meraki simplifies customers' lives

Cisco's $1.2B buy brings WLAN platform that's easy to manage from the cloud

By , Network World
November 20, 2012 11:00 AM ET
Sujai Hajela

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For us, we get a midmarket play for our Unified Network strategy, announced a few months ago. The focus is on the midmarket segment. We'll continue with our Cisco enterprise portfolio for more complex networks.

So where and how will Meraki fit into Cisco?

Today, we're focused on the cloud. We're going to preserve the Meraki product line and culture, and continue to grow all of this.

As we evolve, we want to add more products to that cloud platform. That's the first thing. Second is the whole Meraki development culture: They've been able to achieve a very high velocity of innovation. They can introduce in software new features in a matter of days. When you log in, the latest updates are downloaded, customers can try them out, and these spread to the rest of the customer base very quickly. This [kind of rapid innovation] is very attractive to this market.

They've made it very simple to go to market and for their products to be "consumed" in this midmarket. We want to build on that.

Meraki initially declined Cisco's buyout offer. How did you change their mind?

Well, I'm not commenting on the [negotiation] proceedings. But Sanjit [Biswas, Meraki CEO and co-founder] and I see the world very similarly. The key point was [the company's realization of], how does Meraki help Cisco evolve in this cloud platform? I think they realized that with Cisco they can make their platform a lot bigger, on a global basis [compared to going it alone with an initial public offering].

How will you preserve these Meraki virtues structurally in Cisco?

Meraki will become a new unit, the Cloud Networking Group, within Cisco. Sanjit is the GM of this new group. The two other co-founders will be vice presidents in that group. That group, and the [existing] Enterprise Wireless Networking Business, report to me. And I report to Rob Soderbery, senior vice president, Cisco Enterprise Networking Group.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. 

Read more about wireless & mobile in Network World's Wireless & Mobile section.

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