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Virtual Stacking — the missing link in enterprise switch management

Virtual Stacking is an industry-first technology that provides centralized management for up to 10,000 switch ports. Unlike traditional stacking, virtually stacked switches do not require a physical connection, can be in different physical locations, and can be of different switch models, thereby simplifying large scale, distributed deployments.

(image courtesy of Pierrot Carre)

When we launched the world’s first cloud managed switches in January 2012, we wanted to go beyond all the great features you’ve come to expect in a Meraki product. If you look at the enterprise switch market, other than basic improvements in speeds and feeds, there has been surprisingly little innovation, especially in managing large, distributed networks. Meraki developed Virtual Stacking to help address such challenges.

What is Virtual Stacking?

Virtual Stacking is an industry-first technology that provides centralized management for up to 10,000 switch ports. Unlike traditional stacking, virtually stacked switches do not require a physical connection, can be in different physical locations, and can be of different switch models, thereby simplifying large scale, distributed deployments.

Figure 1: Editing switch ports via Virtual Stacking

What does this mean for you? If you have ever tried stacking traditional switches, you know about the expensive stacking modules, special cables, and the limit of the number of switches that you can manage through a single logical interface. This limitation makes managing large, distributed networks unnecessarily complex and expensive, with on-going OpEx needed to maintain all the network devices. With Meraki’s Virtual Stacking technology, managing large, distributed networks is as simple as managing an intuitive single pane-of-glass interface — the Meraki dashboard.

Single Pane-of-Glass Management

The Meraki dashboard gives you a holistic view of all the ports in your network. It doesn’t matter if the switches are located right next to each other or on different continents. Virtual Stacking give you unprecedented visibility and you can manage up to 10,000 switch ports as though the switches were physically stacked in the same room. For example, you can find all the ports across the network that are in VLAN 30, and then edit the entire group. Alternatively, you can enable/disable ports, turn PoE* on/off, define if ports are access/trunk ports, and assign VLANs.

The power and ease of managing individual ports or a group of ports is critical for scalable deployments, but Meraki’s dashboard takes it a step further and enables you to manage network-wide settings, such as defining QoS, spanning tree, and your management VLAN from the same single pane of glass.

Figure 2: Spanning tree, QoS, and port mirroring configuration

If you do not see these features on your dashboard, you may require a firmware upgrade. Please contact support@meraki.com to schedule the upgrade.

Don’t forget to check out our new features under the Help > New features page regularly. We are constantly adding more exciting features and we’re expanding and improving existing features!

Finally, if you’re interested in seeing the MS Switch Dashboard, watch the demo at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KViCLMKXpkA

*PoE available on the MS22P and MS42P.