WLAN management takes to the cloud

Aerohive, D-Link and Meraki deliver enticing alternatives to on-site management

The cloud is everywhere today, offering the possibility of all manner of IT functions on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis. In this test, we looked at three companies that provide WLAN management services in the cloud, and we came away impressed.

Because of the mission-critical nature of network management and the fact that these tools have traditionally lived on-site, there is some understandable skepticism toward cloud-based WLAN management. But we discovered that cloud-based management offers an interesting path to reducing cost, improving productivity and offering a range of functions that otherwise would involve sizeable capital investments.

The idea of moving wireless LAN management to the cloud has proven so interesting that a number of vendors are now delivering these services. We tested three cloud-based offerings: HiveManager Online from Aerohive Networks, D-Link's CloudCommand and Meraki's Cloud Controller.

We wanted to find out if there is a compromise in capability between cloud and traditional WLAN management systems. What do the economics really look like? And could cloud capability literally move the network operations center into the palm of one's hand?

WLAN management: From nice-to-have to vital

Traditionally, WLAN management functions in enterprise-class products have been implemented either in a WLAN controller or in a separate appliance or server (virtual or otherwise), or sometimes, both. Small-to-midsize business products usually involve configuring firmware in each access point involved, via a secure-HTTP interface.

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