29 June 2012
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Meraki MX60 Review!

Ok, time for the Meraki MX60 review!

We have had the MX60 in the lab for about 2 weeks now, and wow, do we like this little guy!

First of all, many thanks to our friend at Meraki, Anjali Parikh.  She gave a great Meraki demo a few weeks ago and has been helpful every step of the way!

The first thing you notice when you unbox the Meraki is the shape.  It looks like something…just can’t put my finger on it.  Liquid metal-ey, rounded rectangle, very simple.  Then you notice the weight.  This thing is built like a little tank.  We are pretty sure it could stop a bullet, but it did not mention the armor properties in the product literature.  Very well put together, fully metal and very sturdy.  We like this.  No real surprise that the hardware warranty is LIFETIME.  At a price point of $495, that is awesome!

Nothing special on the back of the unit, 4 gig LAN ports and a single gig WAN port.  A USB port rounds out the connectivity.  More on the USB port later.  Speaking of WAN ports, we might as well get our one major complaint about the MX60 out of the way.  At this price point, most other vendors (Dell Sonicwall, Cisco, Watchguard) have a model that supports multi-WAN  failover/load balancing out of the box or through a license upgrade.  UPDATE: THE MX60 NOW ALLOWS DUAL WAN CONNECTION, SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM.  With that being said, there is a USB port on the back of the MX60, and for the low price of whatever a 4G LTE USB dongle costs these days, plus a service agreement, you can have failover via your friendly neighborhood wireless provider.  While we aren’t thrilled about not being able to load-balance traffic across a couple of hard-wired broadband connections, being able to manage a downed router over the 3G connection is still very cool.

 

Now let’s talk about the coolest aspect of this firewall.  It is CLOUD MANAGED.  That’s right, you don’t log into the box via a console cable, nor do you need to be on your network.  That’s because the MX60 is fully managed from the Meraki cloud-based dashboard.  That means that your firewall is always connected to a centralized platform for management, and it doesn’t require you to VPN/SSH/Tunnel/chant incantations to manage it.  Not only that, Meraki aggregates ALL of your Meraki gear into the same single pane of glass so that you can see your entire network from one place.  Got a 50 node wireless network?  One pane.  5 MX60’s across the city?  One pane.  It’s a very intuitive interface (and we have seen quite a few).  But it’s not just a cool user interface sitting on a web server somewhere, the MX60 has some truly cool features for small businesses that are actually very important.  They offer traffic shaping (a fancy name for Quality of Service) which lets you very easily isolate traffic in your network to prioritize (like VoIP) or de-prioritize (like P2P file sharing).  Do other firewalls do that?  Yes.  Are they as easy to configure as the MX60? No way.  We were able to create 4 different shaping rules in under a minute.  Sweet.

I hear what you are saying, “That’s neat, but I have a very simple network in my office and I just want to be able to see who’s eating up my bandwidth!” Well, you’re in luck.  In the Dashboard, not only can you do traffic shaping and cloud firewall management, you can also really dig down into what is eating up your network.  Meraki has built the interface so that it gives you a very quick, simple, easy to understand overview of your network with clickable graphs and charts that let you dig deeper.  You can see traffic usage by application, user, port, etc.  No more wondering who kills your T1 with YouTube, it will be there in the graph for you to see.

You can also upgrade your licensing for simple, easy to use content filtering, built-in anti-malware and anti-phishing capabilities which will offer you another layer of protection on top of the software you should already have deployed to your workstations.

One of the more exciting features for Vaulter is the self-configuring VPN.  Huh?  Well, to break it down, it basically means that there is very little setup for a site-to-site connection between branches.  Send out a MX60, install it, jump onto your Dashboard and within a few keystrokes, your sites are linked.  No more heavy configuration, troubleshooting or needing somebody with an alphabet soup of certifications to finish the job.  We are all about simplicity, and it doesn’t get any more simple than that!

To wrap it up, this is one cool little aluminum slab.  So much so that it is now the official firewall of the Vaulter office.  We love it, and we think our customers are going to love it too, if not for the hours that we WON’T spend configuring it, then for the great usage reports that they will get monthly as part of our service.  They will have great insight into their networks and we will have a rock solid piece of gear that we can lean on.  What more can you ask for?  If you are interested in Meraki, please email us at info@vaulter.com for more information or call 469-759-9001 and dial 1 to speak to somebody about how this cool cloud based firewall can help your business.  For you spec nerds out there, gander at this and the check out more on the MX60 and the rest of the Meraki line at www.meraki.com.

UPDATE 6/27/2013: THE MX60, ONE YEAR LATER!

We just wanted to check back in a year later to talk about our MX60.  It has been serving faithfully as our office firewall/router for a year now, and we have added other products, such as a Meraki AP (MR12), and we even put Meraki into our datacenter (MX70, now replaced by the MX80).

How has it held up?  Like a champ!  Meraki has continued to add feature after feature.  To hones, they have added so many, it barely feels like the same device.  Here are the highlights:

1. Dual WAN option in the MX60 - YAAAAAAAAAY!.  Meraki added this feature in October 2012. and it is phenomenal.  Almost every client of ours is using the feature, some with a backup T1, some with DSL.  With traffic shaping, you can dictate VLANs and their WAN affinity, so this feature comes in VERY handy!  This was our only real complaint about the unit compared to competition, and Meraki fixed it.  Awesome.  The option is in the local configuration, you just change a LAN port to a WAN port.  Easy-Peasy.

2. Client VPN for all MX licenses –  Before, you had to buy the upgraded license for Client VPN capabilities, but Meraki now includes that in the base license.  This is great, we still have customers that have legacy on-prem apps that they need to access, and the VPN is super simple to set up.  I would love for Meraki to come out with a VPN app, a la sonic wall/shresoft/cisco, but even without it, very simple.

3.  Layer 7 Firewall - You can now get granular traffic analysis and blocking from the Dashboard.  Employees using P2P on company devices BAM, blocked.  Very simple to implement, and very simple to see who your problem children are

If you any of these features interest you, or you want to know more about Meraki in general and would like a demo or more information, Vaulter is a Meraki Elevate Partner, and we can help you out.  Please call us at 469-759-9001 and dial 1 for sales!

 

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