If you have perused my blog you’ll know that I have wrangled Sonicwall devices for many years. I kind of “fell into” the Sonicwall world through the back door years ago as it fell onto me to take care of Sonicwall devices for a number of customers after a colleague who handled Sonicwall left the reseller I worked for. I found that I developed a “taste” for working with the devices and I’d like to think I got reasonably good at managing them.
But in the last year or so I’ve started to become somewhat less enchanted with Sonicwall as it feels to me like they have started to fall behind. The “churn” inside Dell due to the whole EMC thing hasn’t helped and now we are even more in the dark about Sonicwall’s direction with the announcement that Dell Software (Sonicwall is a part of that) is being spun out to be held by an investment firm. It may well be that the new ownership will inject new life into Sonicwall, and I truly hope they do, but for now, Sonicwall is being left behind by more nimble competition.
I’m making the leap over to Cisco Meraki as a cohesive security platform (well, my company is and I’m leading the charge). It is a very different world from Sonicwall and one that is a bit scary (for me) as it operates with a vastly different paradigm than Sonicwall. Meraki is much more about application awareness and “co-ordinated security” (my term) across all devices rather than just the brute force abilities of the firewall itself. And while you can argue that Sonicwall has had application awareness as part of the product for some time you can also argue that it is a cast-iron bitch to configure and manage which means many shops forego the benefits of the technology. I know I’ve been guilty of that particular sin.
From what I can see, Meraki makes it much easier to go down the application security path and, in fact, they encourage it. There certainly is a lot less granularity of control at certain levels in the management interface, at least when compared to Sonicwall, but I think that also points to the Meraki design philosophy which seems to me to point you at the things that are important and shields you from the trivial. One thing is for certain, it will be easier to train up other staff on the management of the Meraki systems than is the case with Sonicwall.
I’ll be documenting my journey down this new path as things progress with our Meraki build out. Stay tuned, it should be very interesting.
BTW, Meraki has a very interesting program where the give you gear if you participate in their various webinars. Of course there are terms and conditions but if you qualify it’s a pretty sweet deal! I actually have one of our offices running behind the “free” gear I received. It’s a great way to get familiar with the whole Meraki way of doing things and a great way to see if the gear would work for you. Check it out here!