Taking a look at Software Defined Networking and then again at what Meraki is doing, I wonder if there are synergies behind the scenes or if there will be in the future? Meraki is focused on simplified network device management, calling it Cloud Networking, which can even be seen as a SAAS based offering for a network management tool on steroids. Pretty slick demo shown at the latest Wireless Tech Field Day 2. And I do agree with Om Malik that something like this could be the future of home networking. Partnering with Meraki, it could be a nice offering for the cable providers out there simply by adding a Meraki device and simplified management to a consumer's cable bill.
Not being able to find details on the protocol(s) being used between a Meraki AP/Switch and their cloud controller, I wonder, could their proprietary protocol(s) be used to separate the control and data planes of the Meraki devices like OpenFlow does, should they choose to go down the path of SDN. It seems as if Meraki is using their "CAPWAP-like" protocol for mainly centralizing the management, not yet centralizing the control plane. But…in order to do intelligent RF management, there would need to be some level of control plane functionality happening in the cloud, right?
Regardless, Meraki’s focus today is a centralized management plane. With that said, there seems to be two paths (among others) occurring here within Enterprise "Cloud" Networking. There is clearly the notion of Software Defined Networking that has a major focus on cloud providers and large enterprise data centers and also "Cloud Managed (or SAAS managed) networks" that seem to be an extremely nice fit for large retail shops, branch offices, and the complete mid-market for access/WLAN networking. It will be interesting to see if any of these start ups will work together (and maybe use a common protocol set) to offer a complete network infrastructure solution as each of their individual product offerings mature. After all, for >80% of the customers out there, unified and simplified management will likely be a key motivator for adopting new network architectures.