Mature cloud Wi-Fi offerings have gone through few phases already. They started with bare-bones device configuration from the cloud console and over the years matured into meaty management plane for complete Wi-Fi access, security and complementary services in the cloud.
Alongside these phases of evolution, optimizing the cost of operation of the cloud backend has always been important consideration. It is critical for cloud operators and Managed Service Providers (MSPs). This cost dictates what end users pay for cloud Wi-Fi services and whether attractive pricing models (like AirTight’s Opex-only model) can be viable in the long run. It is also important to the bottom line of the cloud operator/MSP.
Posed with the cost question, one would impulsively say that cost is driven by the capacity in terms of number of APs that can be managed from a staple of compute resource in the cloud. That is an important cost contributor, but not the only one!
Right when the Wi-Fi access and security management are moving towards the controller-less architecture, another interesting architecture seems to have evolved at the other extreme. This architecture seems to be advocating not one, but two WLAN controllers in tandem – and that too from two different vendors. And, some optional (additional?) security management servers on top of the tandem. You think I am kidding? Then check this announcement from Aruba Networks, which is a leading controller-based WLAN vendor: http://www.arubanetworks.com/solutions/by-application/byod-services-on-your-existing-wi-fi/. The stated business case seems to be to put a band-aid on the Cisco WLAN’s (another leading controller-based WLAN vendor) insufficient security features.
In this case, the tandem is only for BYOD security, but as a matter of fact there are many more security gaps that will still remain to be addressed even after the twin tandem controllers are deployed. Would we need a third WLAN controller in the tandem to fill the remaining security gap, and who might provide that? Or, is it just easier to deploy a controller-less comprehensive WIPS solution (and that too with the onsite or cloud option) and secure the Cisco WLAN once and for all. Just a practical thought.
Controller based WiFi architectures have been the standard for some time, but the advantages of the cloud appear to be a perfect fit for deploying a scalable, and more importantly, manageable WiFi infrastructure. Cloud based solutions are intended to drastically reduce the cost and complexity of delivering an enterprise solution. And WiFi should be no exception.
By now, you have discovered CFO’s like cloud computing. IT solutions that can be purchase as a cloud solution eliminate up front capital expenditures, depreciation, and product obsolescence.
Cloud solutions improve cash management because there is no need to write a big check all up front. Paying only for the capabilities you need, lowers your organizations financial risk. And the recurring (often monthly) operational costs of cloud based solutions provide easy to forecast and budget IT expenditures. Lastly, because deployment time and on-going operational overhead can be recognzed in weeks not months, results are easier to measure.
If you are considering a new WiFi deployment or are ready for a refresh, take a look at this video to see how AirTight’s Cloud Services can help.