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Cisco intros Meraki cloud-based multigigabit switch, AP

Cisco has introduced a cloud-based multigigabit switch that's the first of its kind in the market. Other additions to the Meraki wireless portfolio include APs and a desk phone.

Cisco has added a desktop phone, Wave 2 access points and a multigigabit switch -- the first of its kind in the market -- to the Meraki line of cloud-managed products. The switch and fast APs are an indication Cisco is hoping to make the Meraki portfolio more appealing to large enterprises.

The MC74 is the first phone in the Meraki line. IntelePeer is the only Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking provider available for the system at launch. Cisco plans to add more this year. In 2015, IntelePeer was among the top 10 SIP trunking providers, according to IHS Infonetics Research, based in Englewood, Colo.

Enterprises use SIP trunking to move voice services onto the Internet. A SIP system makes the Internet a replacement for a conventional telephone trunk. Voice quality can sometimes be a problem with SIP trunks.

Companies that outfit their offices with MC74s manage the phones through the Meraki cloud-based console. The software lets an administrator assign phones and telephone numbers to corporate employees, compile data on user phone activity and troubleshoot problems.

Companies can add phone numbers through the console quickly. Cutting numbers, which could happen during layoffs, would require talking to a Cisco service representative, said Pablo Estrada, director of marketing for Cisco's cloud networking group.

The desk phone gives the Meraki customer the option of an "all cloud, all mobile office," said Nolan Greene, an analyst at IDC. "Desk phones have not typically been a part of the cloud-managed campus network story and really hadn't been prominent on my radar before the announcement."

Cisco provided New York-based Internet company Blue Apron, which does food delivery, as a user of the MC74. Blue Apron, however, declined comment.

The MC74 has a list price of $600. Licensing is available in one-, three- and five-year terms. A one-year Meraki cloud license costs $13 a month per device or $150 for the year. The IntelePeer service is an additional $9 a month or $108 for the year.

Meraki switches, APs

Companies looking to upgrade their Meraki wireless LAN (WLAN) can do so with the latest access points and switches. The MR52 and MR53 802.11ac Wave 2 APs differ in uplink options. The MR52 has dual 1 Gb interfaces, while the MR53 has multigigabit and 1 Gb Ethernet.

Companies can use the MR53 with the new 24-port stackable multigigabit access switch, called the MS350. The device has eight ports that a network operator can configure for 1, 2.5, 5 or 10 Gb. The combination of the MR53 and MS350 lets a company get closer to Wave 2's maximum speed of nearly 7 Gbps, without having to upgrade existing cabling -- typically Cat5e and Cat6.

"This is a first for the market and suggests legitimacy for multigigabit switching," Greene said of the cloud-managed MS350. "Also, the new APs are pretty heavy-duty for Meraki, showing Cisco's commitment to move Meraki's capabilities upmarket."

Mostly small and midsize enterprises buy Meraki products. Larger companies with sophisticated telephone systems and WLANs have preferred to let dedicated IT teams manage the technology with on-premises applications.

The MR53 and the MS350 have list prices of $1,699 and $7,495, respectively.

Cisco also added to the Meraki line a 10 Gb aggregation switch, called the MS425. The 16-port model has a list price of $14,000, while the 32-port version lists for $22,000. The MS425 should also appeal to larger enterprises, Greene said.

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