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Meraki MS Switches Alternatives and Competitors

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Read reviews of Meraki MS Switches alternatives and competitors

AM
Network Engineer at a computer software company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Has valuable spanning tree protocol and routing features but they should improve the knowledge base library

Pros and Cons

  • "When you buy a switch from Huawei, the switches come along with a lot of features that you do not need to pay extra money for."
  • "The technical support is a bit difficult to work with if you don't speak Mandarin."
  • "The knowledge base needs to be improved and expanded."
  • "It could potentially be difficult to get parts depending on where you live."

What is our primary use case?

For my own use case, I am a reseller for the switches. For my clients' use case, it is using the products as switches to build out their network connections.  

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features will be those features that are really considered as basic features of this type of switch. That includes things such as spanning tree protocol, Huawei's proprietary intelligent stacking called iStack, and the routing features that come along with the switch software package.  

Because Huawei does not charge any license fee on extra features I can repackage it. When you buy a switch from Huawei, the switches come along with a lot of features that you do not need to pay extra money for but you can use these features to build out similarly to something like Cisco switches. There are some features that it does not include, so you have to pay some extra license fee to enable those capabilities.  

What needs improvement?

To improve the ethernet switches, I think first of all that Huawei should improve their knowledge base library. When people like me are trying to look for documents to study about the product to find a solution, sometimes the particular information I am looking for is quite hard to find. It should be an easy task to find a suitable document as a reference. By comparison, it is very easy to locate the information that you need for the Cisco systems. I just type the name of any features or any questions I might have into Google and I can find what I need in a matter of minutes. With Huawei, it is not that simple.  

I think the support also needs to be improved. Right now you have to be able to speak Mandarin in order to communicate with those technical experts and express your problem to make them understand what it is. When they know they can give you a solution to solve your problem, and the support is good in that way it is good. But they need more support for other languages. When I work with Cisco, for example, you can generally speak in English. I am not saying that the support people at Huawei do not know how to communicate in English at all, but find it quite difficult to communicate well with them because they have a very heavy Mandarin accent when speaking in English. It is better to just speak with them in mandarin if you can.  

Because I work only so often with the Huawei brand, I think these might be the only suggestions I have. I spent a long time with the technology but have not gotten very deeply into discovering the smaller details of Huawei switches until recent years.  

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the product for three years.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the brand is constantly getting better and has improved over time. Early on, I actually was working with this brand and have experience with it from seven or eight years ago for a short period of time. As I worked with it, I found it was sometimes hard to explain to the customer when the system became unstable. But Huawei seems to have resolved these issues now.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

In terms of scalability, Huawei is catching up to the big brothers in networking. For example, it is doing more to compete with Cisco, i-Tree or Brocade switches. Their scalability is quite good and sometimes they develop proprietary technology similar to other brands, like borrowing from Cisco. But some people say that the brand is just trying to copycat features that already exist in other brands. To copy is good sometimes, but to develop their own new technology is more important than copying something from other companies. It is not quite best practices to steal some technology and ideas from other companies.  

How are customer service and technical support?

I would say that the technical support responds quite well. Because we are in the same time zone, it is quite easy to find people for troubleshooting or support. Just in case they cannot solve my problem, they can look for other knowledgeable resources within the same time zone who can address the issue. Some other brands, like Cisco, will usually pass the case to another time zone. They work in a protocol which some people call "follow the sun." So sometimes when people are working in one time-zone and they pass the case to people in another time zone, there might be some problem or some information that gets lost about the dialogue explaining the issue. When that happens, you have to repeat the questions and dialogue and it can take the people responding some time to pick up what had already been explained. So it wastes time at the end of the day.  

How was the initial setup?

I believe that the question about setup complexity really depends on which models of the switches are being used. For the middle to low-end switches, it is quite intuitive. But for higher-end models, you must have experience in understanding not only Huawei technology but should also have a very clear concept of what you want to accomplish in networking. So, configuration-wise, I do not personally find any difficulties in configuring Huawei switches provided that I find the configuration guide and read it briefly before I put in any commands into the switch. However, less experienced users could potentially have problems.  

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Huawei comes with a lot of features out of the box that you have to pay extra for with other products. They do charge extra in the licensing for certain other features, however, so some of those capabilities are an additional charge.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I have used quite a few ethernet switches. I have mostly been involved with Cisco, Huawei, and Meraki and I primarily use these three brands. It is not really a matter of choosing only Huawei as a solution in my situation. As a reseller, I need more than one option to satisfy client needs.

What other advice do I have?

The advice I would give people who are considering this product as their switching solution is that if you are looking to satisfy the needs of a small scale project and want a pretty good price, then you might go for it. But you might be sacrificing security or risking involvement in a politically unstable situation. China and the U.S. are very tense with their political positions at the moment. They are facing some sort of trade war. If you need some components to produce or manufacture a product like a Huawei switch it is possibly going to be a tense situation. The chips are an important and really a vital component to complete development and upgrades or maintenance. Without that availability, the switch cannot work properly if something happens. So security and material swapping are the major issues to consider as a potential risk of adopting the product.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate the Huawei ethernet switches as a five. I rate it a five, or really average, compared with a product like Cisco switches. Cisco switches really rate something more like an eight or eight-and-a-half.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: reseller
Akram Khan
Director of Information Technology at UniTeller Financial Services
Real User
Top 5
Easy-to-use, with great product support, this versatile, mature product is a multi-faceted solution

Pros and Cons

  • "Ease-of-use and ease-of-management are good qualities of this product."
  • "The Cisco user interfaces can be difficult to use and maintain."

What is our primary use case?

I have been in so many situations using this product it is hard to choose a primary use. I have worked for many companies, so we have used them as access switches, we have used them as distribution switches, we have used them as IDF (Intermediate Distribution Frame) closets for floor switches. We have used them as code switches and clusters and chassis. I have gone through using all the different versions of switches in many scenarios, like remote offices, access to quotas for distribution. I have used the switches on every level and in exhaustive possibilities.  

What is most valuable?

I think the most valuable feature of Cisco Switches is basically the ease of use, the ease of management. The most important thing may be the support. Support is available and having access to good support has been the difference all along as a user of Cisco products. The most important thing about product support is that everything is made very available. Most of this stuff — I would say more than 90% of the technical stuff — is available online. Anybody can just go online and Google their questions, problems, or what they want to find out about and just download the documents and then get to work with the product. Some other products are good products, but there is not so much good technical information out there to support the products. Those products become less useful and less fully utilized.  

What needs improvement?

I think that Cisco UI interfaces need to be a little better. They use Java for parts of the graphical user interfaces and that messes up things from time-to-time. It is very hard to maintain that graphical user interface. If it would be anything but Java it would be better. Like if you could just access the GUI from a browser, that would be wonderful. But every time Cisco has their own product — like CCP (Cisco Configuration Professional) which is a nightmare to use.  

What I believe they could do more with is enhancement of the security features. The security controls that are given to users with Cisco 4600 now can be integrated with the Cisco firewalls. I think something similar needs to be done on those Lynksys models as well.  

For how long have I used the solution?

It feels like we have been using Cisco Switches forever. I have been using their products since I started my career and that was back in 1988. That makes it about 32 years now.  

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Cisco Lynksys Switches are pretty stable. No complaints. I think, in general, the majority of the Cisco switches are very stable if not all of them.  

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is easy to scale the Cisco products, absolutely. There are a variety of ways to scale it.  

How are customer service and technical support?

Cisco has good technical support. But Cisco is also an advantage when you go out and you want to hire someone for your group to work with the product. For Cisco products, you can find a lot of candidates with experience. If you go with some other products that are not so commonly used, they will not have as many available certified technical people. So it is not as easy to find good candidates for those other products. For Cisco, you can find a lot of people with the necessary skill set.  

Technical support is one of the biggest reasons to go with Cisco as a mature and competitive product that is familiar and generally has good support.  

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have been using Cisco products for my entire long career. They are not exactly the same product for the entire time but they are Cisco quality. If there is a switch between solutions it may be to upgrade or because I moved companies or that requirements change. It has been nothing unusual to switch using one Cisco product for another.  

How was the initial setup?

I think it is pretty straightforward to set up and implement. I think they are pretty standard. It is not rocket science. The person doing the work should have some basic knowledge of working with switches. That would be all they need.  

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

When it comes to pricing, I think the licensing cost is not that bad. It is actually very competitive within the product category.  

What other advice do I have?

The advice I would offer to others in implementing Cisco Lynksys Switches is that somebody on the team has to be well aware of basic networking and how the search network works. That will make them easier to use and implement.  

On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate the Cisco Linksys Ethernet Switches depending on the class. For example, I think the Cisco 9300s are almost an eight-out-of-ten.  

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
OM
General Manager at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
User-friendly, good technical information, very scalable, and centralized management

Pros and Cons

  • "It is very user-friendly. There is no need to use command lines to configure it or to do anything in it. You hardly use command lines, which makes it different from Cisco. In Cisco, the CLI is your best friend. Fortinet has the lowest TCO, so you can use its integrated components without having to buy additional licenses. They provide centralized management without needing to buy or acquire additional licenses. You have an integral or complete vision through a single pane of glass, and you can see everything from one single console without having to buy additional licenses, which is a plus. It works the same way when you add wireless. You can see everything from FortiGate. It has a security processor, which is another plus. It does not have a standard desktop processor. It has a multi-threat security processor, and it is built by Fortinet. So, all the components that you include in a Fortinet solution are proprietary and work in an integral way. It has one single solution, whereas other brands, such as Palo Alto and Check Point, have been acquiring certain solutions, and they're not fully integrated. With Fortinet, everything is integrated. If you start building on Fortinet, everything that you expand to the local LAN or WAN is integrated. You don't have to pay for professional services and other things to do that. Their technical information is also very good. Most of their information is based on how-to, and it can be found online, which is something my clients like."
  • "In Fortinet, the packet reconstruction in the SD-WAN solution needs a little bit of improvement. When it comes to the Secure Access to the switches or the mix of Fortinet solution, the very small ones do not have the capability to use fiber cables. So, the small FortiGates have to work with the copper cables and cannot use fiber cables. Even though they have the capacity and throughput on all technical connectors, they don't have the interfaces, which is one of the good things with Cisco. They just add models to it. You buy the independent models, and you add them."

What is our primary use case?

When our clients integrate FortiSwitches with FortiGate, they can centrally manage their whole network from FortiGate. That's why it's called Secure Access.

The versions of FortiOS that are being used right now are 6.24 and 6.4. These are the two current versions. If we're talking about the models of FortiSwitches, I usually work on 100 to 400 series.

What is most valuable?

It is very user-friendly. There is no need to use command lines to configure it or to do anything in it. You hardly use command lines, which makes it different from Cisco. In Cisco, the CLI is your best friend. 

Fortinet has the lowest TCO, so you can use its integrated components without having to buy additional licenses. They provide centralized management without needing to buy or acquire additional licenses. You have an integral or complete vision through a single pane of glass, and you can see everything from one single console without having to buy additional licenses, which is a plus. It works the same way when you add wireless. You can see everything from FortiGate.

It has a security processor, which is another plus. It does not have a standard desktop processor. It has a multi-threat security processor, and it is built by Fortinet. So, all the components that you include in a Fortinet solution are proprietary and work in an integral way. It has one single solution, whereas other brands, such as Palo Alto and Check Point, have been acquiring certain solutions, and they're not fully integrated. With Fortinet, everything is integrated. If you start building on Fortinet, everything that you expand to the local LAN or WAN is integrated. You don't have to pay for professional services and other things to do that.

Their technical information is also very good. Most of their information is based on how-to, and it can be found online, which is something my clients like.

What needs improvement?

In Fortinet, the packet reconstruction in the SD-WAN solution needs a little bit of improvement. When it comes to the Secure Access to the switches or the mix of Fortinet solution, the very small ones do not have the capability to use fiber cables. So, the small FortiGates have to work with the copper cables and cannot use fiber cables. Even though they have the capacity and throughput on all technical connectors, they don't have the interfaces, which is one of the good things with Cisco. They just add models to it. You buy the independent models, and you add them.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is very scalable. Our clients are small, medium, and large businesses. Fortinet has been traditionally more into the small and medium sizes, but in the last two years, that has changed. We can see Fortinet switches in corporates and large enterprises, including banks.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is very good.

How was the initial setup?

It is very easy. The deployment duration depends on the size of the solution. Usually, if clients already have FortiGate and it is a pure Fortinet network, it is very easy with FortiLink, which is the technology that they use. It gets a little bit more complex if we have to migrate from a non-Fortinet network to a Fortinet network and coexist with other brands. It is doable, but it gets a little bit complicated to switch from traditional networking to FortiLink and coexist with traditional networking.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

When we talk about Fortinet networking, we compete a lot with Cisco on the high end, such as Cisco Meraki. The biggest benefit with Fortinet is that you can extend the security to the access point and integrate Secure Access. With other vendors, you need to acquire additional licenses, which becomes a cost issue. With Cisco Meraki, the issue is the licenses that you need to maintain.

The management part is also there. In Cisco, you need specialized technical people to support and maintain, whereas Fortinet is very easy to learn if you have basic networking knowledge.

What other advice do I have?

I would 100% recommend it because you can extend the security, and you can optimize the SD-WAN or the traffic at the application level and not only at the traditional VLAN level.

I would rate Fortinet FortiSwitch - Secure Access a nine out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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AlexChubarov
Network and CyberSecurity Engineer at Nextro
Reseller
Top 20
A stable solution that provides value for money and comes with a user-friendly interface

Pros and Cons

  • "Ubiquiti UniFi Switches are stable and support Layer 3. They come with a user-friendly interface. If you're not familiar with the command-line interface or you wouldn't like to configure it by using the command line, they have a user-friendly interface that you can use. They also have good documentation about how to use these switches."
  • "They can improve the visibility of networks to match Meraki switches, which have good visibility tools to go through the network. In a Meraki device, you get a clear picture when using the bug interface. You can also see its neighbors and have a clear picture of all connected devices. Ubiquiti UniFi Switches do not have such features that Meraki switches provide."

What is most valuable?

Ubiquiti UniFi Switches are stable and support Layer 3. They come with a user-friendly interface. If you're not familiar with the command-line interface or you wouldn't like to configure it by using the command line, they have a user-friendly interface that you can use. They also have good documentation about how to use these switches.

What needs improvement?

They can improve the visibility of networks to match Meraki switches, which have good visibility tools to go through the network. In a Meraki device, you get a clear picture when using the bug interface. You can also see its neighbors and have a clear picture of all connected devices. Ubiquiti UniFi Switches do not have such features that Meraki switches provide.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Ubiquiti UniFi Switches are stable. If you configure them properly, and they are in a proper server room with good cooling, they work fine.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is probably possible, but it is not common to scale these. Ubiquiti UniFi Switches are more suitable if you don't need to create a really big, scalable solution at an enterprise level, and you have two or three switches with a firewall. For a big company, in terms of scalability, Cisco or F5 switches work better than Ubiquiti switches. If you have a good budget, Cisco or F5 would be better.

If you would like to scale Ubiquiti UniFi Switches, you probably can. They are probably not difficult to scale. It depends on your skills. I have not scaled them before.

How are customer service and technical support?

They are good. In the last year, we did not have any issues with their switches.

How was the initial setup?

They just give you a small card. You can scan the code on the card and go to the web page. You can also directly go to the web page to see the documents. They do not provide any documents with the box. You need to go to the internet to see how to do the initial setup, that is, how to set the login ID, password, default IP (if it exists), and other options.

As compared to Ubiquiti, Cisco provides exact communication about whether the IP address needs to be configured on the device or whether it is pre-configured.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The price of Ubiquiti UniFi Switches is really good. We have deployed a few Ubiquiti UniFi Switches in New Zealand, and they are a value for money. They are cheaper and stable, but if you have the budget, I would recommend Meraki switches. 

What other advice do I have?

Ubiquiti UniFi Switches are suitable for small companies. I don't know any company that uses these at the enterprise level. If Ubiquiti wants to brand it as a big enterprise solution, it needs to advertise and promote these switches accordingly.

I would rate Ubiquiti UniFi Switches an eight out of ten.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
EM
Senior Systems Engineer at a manufacturing company with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
Well-priced with good security options, but the monitoring capability could definitely be improved

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is switching on our network."
  • "Wireless and monitoring definitely could be improved."

What is our primary use case?

We are using this solution as the current network infrastructure in the company.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is switching on our network.

What needs improvement?

Wireless and monitoring definitely could be improved. 

I would like to see better monitoring in the next release.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Juniper Ethernet Switches for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is okay, it could be better. The configuration could be easier, and more simple.

We have approximately 500 users. All of the departments are on a campus-style network with shared buildings and one compound. All of them are interconnected with fiber and have users in multiple buildings. There are approximately 12 buildings.

How are customer service and technical support?

When we are trying to troubleshoot, we will find the support-type documentation.

We haven't had any issues where we couldn't find the documentation.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously, we were using another solution that was not able to provide a certain aspect in terms of LAN security. That is the reason why we switched to Juniper.

We had another contender, Meraki, which is another Cisco product. In terms of management, monitoring seems better than Juniper.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was complex.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It's was $100,000 per year.

There are no additional costs other than the licensing fee.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were evaluating Cisco, HPE, and Juniper. The cost was a big factor in our decision to go with Juniper.

What other advice do I have?

We will be doing an upgrade internally, so we are a bit undecided on whether or not we will continue using this product, or a new solution altogether. 

We are evaluating the price and system functionality.

It's not for the average user, you have to be more technical in order to use it. There are other solutions that are better, with a GUI and easier to use.

If you are comfortable with a pure command line or if you are looking for something simpler where the entire thing could look up the monitoring, support, and cost, I think there are other brands with more features.

I would rate Juniper Ethernet Switches a seven out of ten.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Get our free report covering Aruba Networks, Ubiquiti Networks, Netgear, and other competitors of Meraki MS Switches. Updated: November 2021.
552,695 professionals have used our research since 2012.