WLAN Management Moves to the Cloud – Part 1

The cloud is essential for mobile users, but, as it turns out, it may also be the optimal path for many aspects of IT operations, starting with wireless LAN management.

I've been spending a huge amount of time lately on the concept and practice of WLAN management in the cloud. If you've not thought about this possibility before (and it's likely you haven't, as only a few vendors are active in this space today), think of WLAN management as just another app, host it in the cloud, and you're done. But, wait, you say, WLAN management is a mission-critical service - is this really something that IT should put in the cloud, or even purchase as a service (the SaaS strategy)? Why, yes, to all of the above.

Traditional WLAN management has ranged between nonexistent, especially in smaller installations using residential- or SMB-class products, to the huge NOC complete with a big board and lots of people being very, very busy. Well, suppose we took NOC-class functionality, hosted it in the cloud, allowed access from essentially any browser-based device (introducing the enticing concept of operating one's network from a handset), and eliminated the need for capital purchase of management infrastructure altogether? Sounds pretty good, right? Assuming we can address the obvious security and integrity issues, anyway - and, cutting to the chase, we can.

I just completed a fairly detailed look at three key suppliers of cloud-hosted WLAN management, and the results will appear in Network World on 11 July, or so I'm told. I'll have much more to say on this topic then. But, for now, if you want a sneak peek, I have two possibilities for you. The first is a recently-completed (this week, in fact) Webinar on the subject, and the second is a new Farpoint Group White Paper. The Webinar was sponsored by Aerohive Networks, who are one of the first WLAN system vendors to offer a complete WLAN management suite entirely in the cloud. More on them and a couple of others shortly, but, for now, this is a subject that all operations managers should become familiar with. I'll go so far as to say that I expect the majority of WLAN installations to be using cloud-based management within the next five years. And the possibility for small businesses, like mine, to now have access to big-system features, and at a very reasonable price, is truly wonderful. Anyway, more next month.

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