Certifications / Cisco

Cisco Meraki vs Fortinet: Subscription Price Comparison

by Erik Mikac
Cisco Meraki vs Fortinet: Subscription Price Comparison picture: A
Published on July 19, 2022

It is no secret that the cyber landscape is becoming more vast and diverse. As the landscape grows, attack vectors are increasing right along with it. Fortunately, several security hardware vendors provide top-tier solutions. However it is not always easy to determine which one is the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable.

This post will delve into some of the differences between two of the major network and security appliance players: Meraki and Fortinet. We'll go over key differences between the two — and how to determine one will ultimately fit your needs.

What is Cisco Meraki?

Cisco Meraki offers three umbrellas of services: Access, WAN (Wide Area Network), and IoT (Internet of Things). Their Access-centric appliances focus on leveraging the cloud to build globally accessible solutions. For example, Meraki offers MDM (Mobile Device Management) solutions to help mobile phone users access their applications. On the flip side, it blocks out unwanted guests from accessing or snooping on the VPN.

One of the best solutions Meraki provides is SD-WANs or software-defined WANs. SD-WANs are cloud integrated networks that reduce latency by communicating directly with the cloud. Doing so removes the need to go through a central server. Eliminating these unneeded traffic hops reduces latency and increases security.

What is Fortinet?

Fortinet focuses far more on security remediation and mitigation while Cisco Meraki feels a bit more like a jack of all trades. Suffice it to say, Fortinet brings a lot to the tables — and that's not including its flagship product the Fortinet Enterprise Protection Bundle.

Fortinet Enterprise Protection Bundle covers everything an organization needs to ensure their network runs securely and reliably. This bundle includes several different services to ensure all attack vectors are protected and secure.

What Does the Fortinet Protection Bundle Include?

The Fortinet Protection Bundle includes a wide range of tools and services to fit your organization's IT needs. Let's look at just one of them: Fortinet Cloud Access Security Broker (FortiCASB). It extends security visibility into numerous SaaS products such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Office 365. Below is a screenshot of the app itself:

Here's a quick example on how this would be helpful. Let's say an external source placed a flat file full of social security numbers into a corporate owned Dropbox. This sort of PPI naturally does not belong there. So, FortiCASB is able to extend your organization's security governance into this third-party cloud provider. It will scan and find this file based on pre-set policies that come out of the box.

What to Consider When Choosing a Networking Solution

There are myriad factors to consider when evaluating networking solutions. We will touch on several key factors that can help you determine whether Meraki or Fortinet will better fit your needs and budget.

Pricing Structure

Cisco Meraki requires a license to operate most of their appliances, such as their security gateway, cameras, and more. Meraki requires licenses based on the hardware you purchase and quantity. Keep in mind though, that this is not a hard fast rule.

The price of each device may vary—ranging from around $150 to $400 per year—but you get the idea that the licensing price will grow high rather quickly. With all that being said, if you can afford their annual price then Meraki is an excellent solution.

Like Cisco Meraki, Fortinet requires a subscription. However, you don't need a subscription to use the Fortigate router/NGFW right out of the box. If you want support, anti-virus updates, and firmware, then you need a license. So basically, you need to get that license! It is safe to assume all of their Security Bundles will need a license as well.

Customer Support

Cisco Meraki has excellent customer support. When purchasing Meraki, it is advisable to opt into their Meraki Now — Advanced Hardware Replacement plan. The Cisco Meraki service plan has technicians on-call 24/7/365 to assist with any technical issues. Additionally, hardware can be replaced or troubleshot to satisfaction in a matter of days. Meraki Now is priced based on the value of the appliance itself. For example, a wireless appliance warranty is priced at 8.5% of the cost of the device itself. A security appliance, on the other hand, is 19.13% of the device.

If you opt out of Meraki Now all together, you will have only the standard 1-year warranty on some devices and a life-time warranty on others. Suffice it to say, many organizations regret opting out of Meraki Now.

As for Fortinet, all of its security bundles come with FortiCare included — the aforementioned Enterprise bundle for example. However, for those only wishing to cherry pick different solutions, Fortinet offers numerous tiers of support, starting with its Small Business tier.

Overall, we covered only the tip of the iceberg with regard to Fortinet Customer Support. If interested, check out this handy brochure to understand how flexible they can be.

Meraki vs Fortinet: Which Should You Use?

Fortinet and Cisco Meraki are vying for the same competition: corporate organizations requiring fast, reliable, and secure internet. They both rate about equally in terms of scalability, as they both offer excellent SD-WAN solutions.

Fortinet is an excellent decision if you need to harden your security posture. Its Cloud Broker technology integrates excellently with numerous different SaaS technologies. Fortinet also has generally superior NGFW capabilities and virus detection.

Meraki, on the other hand, is extremely convenient and "out of the box". It comes with loads of "free" tools such as Meraki Systems Manager. Cisco is ubiquitous with networking technology. So, chances are your organization is already using it. So a huge plus for Meraki is that it will integrate seamlessly with existing networking devices.

Cisco Meraki also offers a vast amount of IoT devices to secure your physical perimeter and bring boost productivity in the now commonplace work-from-home environments. So if you are looking for ways to secure your office, Meraki may be the way to go.

Whichever vendor your organization chooses, you will likely have made the right choice — because both are legit vendors who offer strong solutions.


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