Manage Cisco Catalyst in the (Meraki) Cloud

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Manage Cisco Catalyst in the (Meraki) Cloud

June 14, 2022 By Rowell Leave a Comment

Cisco Catalyst is coming to the Meraki cloud. Get ready to manage your Catalyst switches and access points using the Meraki dashboard.

With 47% of employees wanting to work with a hybrid option, cloud management infrastructure is a must.

Infrastructure we can manage and automate from anywhere creates a highly productive workforce.

Cisco has decided to bring flexibility for network operators by combining Meraki’s cloud management with Cisco Catalyst hardware. What you get is a centralized view of your network with real-time switch status and health.

It’s easier to monitor your network remotely and get traffic visibility where you weren’t able to previously.

Migrate to Meraki cloud monitoring for a unified view of your network infrastructure and troubleshoot from anywhere. Leverage the cloud and spend less time in the CLI using overlay management for your Catalyst hardware.

Catalyst 9500 switches

Supported Platforms & Licensing

Today, the Catalyst 9200, 9300 and 9500 switching platforms will be supported in the Meraki dashboard with two options:

  • Cloud Monitoring (monitor only)
  • Cloud Management (monitor and configuration)

The minimum firmware version to run on these switches is IOS-XE 17.3 or higher.

What about licensing?

Fully managed Catalyst switches will need to have DNA Advantage (DNA-A) or DNA Essentials (DNA-E).

Monitored Catalyst switches will use a Meraki license.

The difference between the two switching licenses is that DNA-E will not include application visibility or client usage data.

Will Meraki displace DNA Center? No. Cisco is providing flexibility and options. But you will need to decide where you want to manage your Catalyst infrastructure – Meraki, DNA Center, or standalone?

Once a Catalyst switch is fully managed by Meraki it will no longer be an IOS device. It will run Meraki software. But if it is a monitored switch, it can still be accessible via CLI.

Catalyst Wireless Support

Cisco is introducing three new Catalyst wireless access points that can be managed by the Meraki dashboard or a C9800 controller. Those are the:

  • CW9166
  • CW9164
  • CW9162

The SKUs with CW prepended will support either Meraki dashboard or the C9800 controller.

There isn’t much information on this yet but maybe more details will come out during Cisco Live 2022.


This is the first iteration of Catalyst crossing over to the Meraki dashboard. We won’t see 100% feature parity of Catalyst switching features into the Meraki dashboard but it appears you can do basic monitoring and configuration. Additional details should be arriving soon.

Catalyst switches will in one of two modes: monitor-only or fully-managed.

Some of the features already supported include the Topology view to see where your network infrastructure is connecting.


Viewing Catalyst switches in the Meraki Topology view

A centralized view of your network switches and which are in monitor only mode.


Viewing a list of Catalyst switches in the Meraki dashboard

Drill into an individual switch, such as the Catalyst 9500, within the Meraki dashboard.


Catalyst 9500 monitoring in the Meraki Dashboard

Don’t forget the Catalyst Wi-Fi management capability in the Meraki dashboard.


Catalyst access point (CW9166) in the Meraki dashboard

How do you get started?

It’s a three step process to get started with monitoring Catalyst in the Meraki Dashboard:

  1. Collect your Catalyst device credentials
  2. Enable API access in your Meraki dashboard
  3. Use the Catalyst Onboarding app from the Meraki dashboard (Organization > Inventory)

My Thoughts

Is Cisco going all-in with Meraki? While Cisco has been building on-prem software solutions, such as DNA Center, we’ve seen competitors place their bets in the cloud. Cisco has always provided multiple options and this could just be another option. An option where DNA Center couldn’t fit in an organization’s environment but Meraki can.

But what drives one towards DNA or Meraki? Will the options confuse people? I’m hoping the licensing model will become more simplified as it has been with Meraki.

This is a good move for those in their upgrade cycles. It’s easier to migrate to cloud management with Meraki but still have the feature-rich capabilities of the Catalyst product line.

I hope to see more feature extensibility with Meraki, API, and NETCONF. I can see so many benefits leveraging the Meraki dashboard.

I’m going to be keeping my eye out for more during Cisco Live 2022.

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