Cloud this, virtual that… it’s the future, and mostly it’s a good thing! Welcome to the great WiFi expansion, folks!
Not too long ago, when people started deploying multiple wireless access points (APs) in a single location, they realized how cumbersome it was to manage all APs individually. The masses demanded a way of managing multiple APs from a single location, and so the Controller was born. A Controller is just what the name says: a device that ‘controls’ and manages all APs from one central location.
For some time, this was the only option for managing multiple APs, and there was no way around it. And it was a great thing. It still is.
Virtualization and cloud architectures have hit the WiFi world hard. While Aerohive, Meraki and AirTight were the first major pioneers of public cloud WiFi and have had the architecture for a number of years, recently everyone has released a similar offering.
Some examples are:
– Aruba released Aruba Central
– Cisco acquired Meraki, which is now marketed under the name Cisco Meraki
– Ruckus came out with Smart Access Management (SAM)
– Xirrus has Xirrus Management System – Cloud (XMS-C)
Why The Change?
Cloud architecture allows WLAN networks to be extremely elastic and scalable, at a predictable linear cost. This, coupled with the flexibility advantages of virtualization, makes the solution a compelling competitor.
I will not go into detail, but want to clarify that there are two types of cloud controllers.
Public Cloud is when the WLAN manufacturers themselves or a third party hosts the service in their own cloud. (All the user needs to do is purchase a yearly license to use the cloud service)
Private Cloud is when the users purchase and install the controller software on their own servers, in their data centers. (In this case, the client is responsible for managing the instance)
Is Cloud WiFi The Way To Go?
Maybe, maybe not. It really depends. There are ups and downs to everything in life, so why should this be any different?
If you’d like to find out more about the comparisons between the cloud and controller set up, please check out an earlier blog posting here.
Is the traditional WLAN controller finally dead?
NOT by a long shot. But it also isn’t the star of the show and the only option like it once was.
The Final Word: Whether or not you want to go with a cloud WLAN solution is a personal choice. At the end, having options is what’s important.
Peter Yordanov, Signing Out.