Meraki vs Ubiquiti: Full Networking Comparison

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Meraki vs Ubiquiti: Full Networking Comparison

Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti are two reputable networking vendors with different strengths for certain business needs. Cisco Meraki, established in 2006, provides cloud-based networking solutions with an emphasis on wireless appliances, SD-WANs, and IoT devices for medium to large organizations.

Their Access-centric appliances take advantage of the cloud to create solutions that are globally accessible, and they provide Mobile Device Management services so mobile phone users can access applications on the go.

Ubiquiti, founded in 2003, provides hardware and software solutions for small to medium-sized organizations. Their flagship product, the Dream Machine Pro, is an enterprise-grade all-in-one networking device, while their UniFi OS provides a modern UI that integrates seamlessly with all Ubiquiti appliances.

When choosing between these two vendors, organizations must take into account pricing structure and customer support. Cisco Meraki requires licenses based on purchased hardware and quantity, with Meraki Now plans to provide 24/7/365 tech support with technicians available throughout.

Ubiquiti has zero licensing fees, making it cost-effective for small to medium-sized businesses with standard warranties that may not be as comprehensive as Meraki Now’s. However, Ubiquiti also provides a vibrant community forum for support. Ultimately, organizations must decide which vendor best meets their business requirements.

Meraki vs Ubiquiti: Side-by-Side Comparison

CriteriaCisco MerakiUbiquiti
ProductsAccess, WAN, IoTIoT, Access, Routing
Flagship productSD-WANs, Cloud-centric cameraDream Machine Pro, UniFi OS
Pricing structureLicensing feesNo Licensing fees
Customer Support24/7/365 technicians, SLAStandard warranty, community

Meraki vs Ubiquiti: What’s the Difference?

Meraki and Ubiquiti are two vendors providing networking solutions for small to medium-sized organizations. While both products are reliable and of high quality, there are some key distinctions businesses should take into account before selecting one over the other.

Infographic Maraki vs. Ubiquiti

License Fees and Cost Structure

Cisco Meraki requires licensing for most of its appliances, such as security gateways, cameras, and other devices. Prices are determined by the hardware purchased and quantity; licenses can be transferred between old and new devices while upgrading hardware.

Depending on the device type, license prices range from $150-400 annually. While Cisco Meraki provides high-quality solutions at reasonable costs, licensing costs can become quite steep over time.

meraki vs uviquiti
Cisco Systems acquired Meraki in December 2012.

©Anucha Cheechang/Shutterstock.com

Ubiquiti does not charge licensing fees. Once purchased, the device belongs to the user and can be operated independently of any network administrator. This makes Ubiquiti an economical solution for small to medium-sized businesses looking for cost-effective networking options. Its lack of licensing costs makes it appealing even to home-based businesses.

When selecting between Meraki and Ubiquiti, factoring in the long-term cost structure is essential. While Meraki offers a great solution for large organizations, its annual licensing fees may add up over time. On the other hand, Ubiquiti provides for budget-conscious businesses that don’t want to deal with the additional expenses associated with licensing fees.

SD-WAN Integration

Cisco Meraki offers one of the best solutions for SD-WAN or software-defined WAN. SD-WANs are cloud-integrated networks that eliminate unnecessary hops in traffic, decreasing latency and increasing security.

They communicate directly with the cloud, eliminating the need for a central server, and making them more dependable and secure options. As these are cloud-integrated, they are adaptive to changing network conditions while prioritizing time-sensitive data such as VoIP calls.

Ubiquiti also provides SD-WAN integration solutions, but their implementation is less seamless than Meraki’s. Their EdgeMAX routers require more complex setup and technical knowledge to integrate SD-WAN. While Ubiquiti’s EdgeMAX routers are high-quality devices, they lack cloud integration features, making Meraki’s SD-WAN solution an excellent choice for businesses.

When selecting between Meraki and Ubiquiti, it’s essential to factor in the level of technical expertise available to implement SD-WAN solutions. Meraki’s implementation is simpler and cloud-integrated, making it more user-friendly; on the other hand, Ubiquiti requires more knowledge but remains an attractive option for businesses with IT professionals on staff.

Product Line Focus

Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti have distinct product lines. Meraki’s main services encompass Access, WAN, and IoT. On the other hand, Ubiquiti specializes in Routing, Access, and IoT.

Meraki’s access-centric appliances utilize cloud technology to deliver global access solutions. It provides mobile device management tools so users can securely access their applications. Meanwhile, they can keep out unauthorized guests who might try to break in or sniff on the VPN connection.

Meraki’s software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is a cloud-integrated network that communicates directly with the cloud, eliminating unnecessary hops in between. SD-WANs also intelligently route traffic according to changing network conditions while prioritizing time-critical data like VoIP calls.

Ubiquiti’s flagship product, the Dream Machine Pro, is an all-inclusive networking device with a built-in security gateway, WAN support, an 8-Port Gigabyte switch, and a video recorder. Ubiquiti’s UniFi OS offers a modern UI that seamlessly integrates with all hardware appliances.

UniFi OS makes managing Ubiquiti devices simple, providing all the necessary data to start, stop, configure, or troubleshoot them quickly and easily.

Customer Support

Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti differ in terms of their customer support. Cisco Meraki boasts superior service with their Meraki Now – Advanced Hardware Replacement plan, offering 24/7/365 technical assistance from certified technicians.

Meraki Now’s technicians can troubleshoot or replace hardware quickly and efficiently, guaranteeing satisfaction with the company’s Service Level Agreement (SLA).

On the other hand, Ubiquiti provides standard warranties that are less comprehensive than Meraki’s. While its guarantees cover of all products purchased through it, there is no advanced hardware replacement plan or 24/7 technical assistance available from Ubiquiti.

Support issues are typically handled through their community forums, with solutions often coming from the users themselves.

Network Scalability

When selecting a networking solution, it’s essential to assess its capacity for growth. Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti both provide scalable networking options; however, their approaches differ.

Cisco Meraki’s solution is built upon the cloud concept, making it an ideal option for organizations with multiple locations. Their dashboard enables centralized management of all Meraki devices within an organization, giving visibility and control over network traffic at all locations.

meraki vs ubiquiti
Ubiquiti’s first product line was its “Super Range” mini-PCI radio card series.


Meraki’s SD-WAN technology ensures intelligent traffic routing over WAN, prioritizing critical data and maintaining performance no matter how many sites are connected.

Ubiquiti’s approach to scaling is hardware-centric. Their Dream Machine Pro is a single device that can manage all networking needs, such as routing, switching, and security.

The device is designed for scalability; as an organization grows, they add more Dream Machine Pros to its network. In addition, UniFi OS allows centralized management of all Ubiquiti devices, making setting up and administering networks across multiple locations simple.

User Interface

When selecting a networking solution, the user interface is another crucial factor to consider. A well-designed user interface simplifies configuring and managing networks, saving time and minimizing errors.

Cisco Meraki’s dashboard is renowned for its user-friendly, intuitive design. It provides a single point of access to manage all Meraki devices within an organization, making it simple to configure and monitor networks. Plus, real-time network visibility gives IT pros the power to quickly identify and resolve issues.

Ubiquiti’s UniFi OS is user-friendly, offering a centralized management interface for all Ubiquiti devices. The dashboard displays detailed information about device performance and helps IT pros quickly identify and resolve network problems.

Furthermore, the UniFi mobile app enables IT professionals to manage their networks from their smartphones for even greater flexibility and convenience.

Security Features

It is also essential to evaluate the security features offered by each vendor. Cisco Meraki and Ubiquiti offer various protection levels; however, their specific details may differ.

Cisco Meraki’s security solutions are built upon its cloud-based architecture. All devices connected to the dashboard provide centralized control and network traffic monitoring.

This architecture supports granular access control policies, as well as real-time threat detection, guaranteeing that only authorized devices can access the network and that any suspicious activity is quickly identified and addressed.

Ubiquiti’s Dream Machine Pro offers robust security capabilities, like an integrated firewall and intrusion detection system. Additionally, the UniFi OS offers advanced security components like VPN support and VLAN support to help organizations create secure networks.

However, some of these capabilities require an additional setup that may be more complex than Cisco Meraki’s plug-and-play approach.

Meraki vs Ubiquiti: 9 Must-Know Facts

  1. Cisco Meraki was established in 2006 and acquired by Cisco in 2012. Ubiquiti followed suit three years later in 2003.
  2. While Cisco Meraki specializes in wireless appliances, Ubiquiti provides various software and hardware solutions for small to medium-sized organizations.
  3. Cisco Meraki provides access, WAN, and IoT appliances, while Ubiquiti has IoT, Access, and Routing products.
  4. Cisco Meraki provides SD-WANs that reduce latency and boost security by connecting directly to the cloud. They also offer cloud-centric security cameras equipped with features like license plate recognition and machine learning-based suspicious person detections.
  5. Ubiquiti’s Dream Machine Pro is an enterprise-grade all-in-one networking device with a built-in security gateway, WAN support, and an 8-port Gigabyte switch.
  6. Ubiquiti’s UniFi OS software seamlessly integrates with all their devices, providing easy management of all appliances from one convenient location.
  7. Cisco Meraki requires licenses for most of their appliances based on the hardware and quantity purchased. The fee ranges from $150 to $400 annually per device.
  8. Ubiquiti does not charge licensing fees, making it a cost-effective solution for small to midsize businesses and work-from-home setups.
  9. Cisco Meraki boasts outstanding customer support and their Meraki Now. This Advanced Hardware Replacement plan offers 24/7/365 technical assistance, hardware replacement, and troubleshooting within days.

The History of Meraki

Meraki is a networking technology company founded in 2006 by Sanjit Biswas, John Bicket, and Hans Robertson. They were inspired by the MIT Roofnet project — an experimental mesh network developed by researchers at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Meraki began its operations with funding from Google and Sequoia Capital, before moving its headquarters to Mountain View, California. To start the company off, Meraki recruited staff members who had worked on the MIT Roofnet project and began creating new networking solutions.

In 2007, Meraki launched its “Free the Net” campaign, providing internet access to underserved communities in San Francisco. They installed gateway devices in the Lower Haight neighborhood and gave away repeaters so more people could join.

Within one year, there had been an exponential growth of users on this network. By October 2007, 20,000 had connected, and 5 terabytes of data had been transferred, leading to 100,000 using Meraki’s “Free the Net” service by July 2008.

Meraki ultimately discontinued its public service, although many access points remain active without internet connectivity. Instead, the company shifted its focus to cloud-managed networking solutions for businesses and organizations.

On November 18, 2012, Cisco Systems announced its intention to acquire Meraki for $1.2 billion. With this acquisition, Cisco expanded its networking solutions portfolio and utilized Meraki’s cloud-based technology to simplify customer network management.

Today, Meraki remains headquartered in San Francisco and continues to pioneer cloud-based networking solutions. Businesses, schools, hospitals, and other organizations around the globe use its products and services to enhance connectivity, security, and network management.

The Evolution of Ubiquiti

Ubiquiti, Inc. has come a long way since its inception in 2003 in San Jose, California. Formerly known as Ubiquiti Networks Inc., the American technology firm now has its headquarters in New York City. It continues to manufacture and sell wireless data communication and wired products under multiple brand names.

In 2011, Ubiquiti made a historic step by going public with an initial public offering (IPO) of 7.04 million shares at $15 per share, raising a whopping $30.5 million. This marked a new phase in the company’s evolution as it sought to expand product lines and enter new markets.

Over the years, Ubiquiti has continually innovated and introduced new products to its portfolio. One notable breakthrough was the launch of UniFi in 2012, which revolutionized network management for businesses and individuals alike. UniFi brought simplicity, scalability, and affordability into network administration — leading to its rapid adoption by users.

Ubiquiti’s success with the UniFi platform spurred them to expand their product lineup further, introducing UniFi Protect, UniFi Access, and UniFi Talk among others. These new items allowed Ubiquiti to reach a wider range of customers and solidify itself as one of the leading providers of wireless communication solutions.

The company has not only increased its product selection, but it has also sought to strengthen its global reach. By creating a network of distributors and resellers worldwide, it can easily reach customers in different regions and markets.

Ubiquiti remains committed to its mission of providing high-performance wireless communication and networking solutions that are affordable for everyone. By emphasizing innovation, simplicity, and scalability, the company is well-positioned to meet customers’ changing needs while staying ahead of the competition.

Meraki vs Ubiquiti: Which One Is Better?

When selecting between Meraki and Ubiquiti, it’s essential to take into account your organization’s specific requirements. Meraki provides cloud-integrated solutions like SD-WANs and IoT devices. However, these come with licensing fees and require purchasing a service plan for comprehensive technical support.

On the other hand, Ubiquiti offers cost-effective networking options without licensing fees, plus its UniFi OS makes managing all devices a breeze. Although its customer support may not be as extensive as Meraki’s, its standard warranty should still suffice for most small to midsize businesses.

Meraki and Ubiquiti are both respected vendors with quality products, so, ultimately, the choice comes down to your budget and specific requirements.

Meraki may be the better option for your organization if you can afford both companies’ licensing fees and service plans. On the other hand, if cost efficiency is key and technical support isn’t a must-have, then Ubiquiti might be your better bet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I decide which vendor is ideal for my business?

Your decision should be based on individual needs. Ubiquiti provides a cost-effective solution, while Meraki’s annual pricing structure and access, WAN, and IoT appliances offer reliable, high-quality options at an accessible cost.

How Does Meraki's SD-WAN Work?

Meraki’s SD-WANs are cloud-integrated networks that communicate directly with the cloud, eliminating unnecessary traffic hops. This intelligently routes traffic based on changing network conditions, guaranteeing time-critical data such as VoIP is prioritized for delivery.

What Are Meraki's IoT Devices?

Meraki offers a selection of IoT solutions to integrate into your organization, such as cloud-centric security cameras with features like license plate recognition and EVERYANGLE for suspicious person detection.

EVERYANGLE uses machine learning technology embedded into security cameras which send SMS, Slack messages, or phone calls if it detects suspicious individuals.

What is Ubiquiti's Dream Machine Pro?

Ubiquiti’s Dream Machine Pro is an enterprise-grade all-in-one networking device featuring an embedded security gateway, WAN support, 8-Port Gigabyte switch, and video recorder — all managed from one source with Ubiquiti’s UniFi OS. Now you can easily manage all these devices from a single source thanks to this convenient device.

What is Meraki Now?

Meraki Now provides 24/7/365 technical support and advanced hardware replacement. Their technicians are on call to quickly resolve any technical issues, with hardware replacement or troubleshooting completed within days according to their service level agreement (SLA). Pricing is based on the value of your appliance itself.

Does Ubiquiti Provide Advanced Technical Support?

Although Ubiquiti offers a standard warranty, it is less comprehensive than Meraki Now’s. That being said, this level of support may not be necessary for small to midsize businesses. Nonetheless, Ubiquiti still provides customer service but not in the same comprehensive way.

How Does Ubiquiti's UniFi OS Work?

Ubiquiti’s UniFi OS is a user-friendly UI that works seamlessly with all Ubiquiti appliances, providing all data necessary for starting, stopping, configuring, and troubleshooting these devices. This helps users to manage multiple devices from one central location with ease.

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