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Cisco’s Meraki spreads its cloud to voice

If you manage your whole LAN in the cloud, why not add in the desk phones, too?

That’s what Cisco’s Meraki division has done. Its first phone, the MC74, can be managed on the same dashboard Meraki provides for its switches, Wi-Fi access points, security devices, and other infrastructure.

Cisco bought Meraki in 2012 when it was a startup focused on cloud-managed Wi-Fi. The wireless gear remains, but Cisco took the cloud management concept and ran with it. Now Meraki’s approach is the model for Cisco’s whole portfolio.

Meraki’s goal is to simplify IT, said Pablo Estrada, director of marketing for Cisco’s cloud networking group. The idea appeals to smaller companies with small or non-existent IT staffs, but also to some large enterprises that need to set up and run networks at remote offices, he said. Since Cisco bought Meraki, the customer base has grown from 15,000 to 120,000.

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