June 8, 2010

A Practical Approach to Wireless 2.0

If you haven't heard about the all-wireless enterprise, then you've missed an important networking paradigm shift. Wi-Fi networks offer secure mobility and a tremendous ROI. In the early days of Wi-Fi, significant challenges included management, security, mobility, deployment, reliability, and radio resource management. Yes, basically everything was a challenge. Those were certainly interesting times for the Wi-Fi market. Now, Wi-Fi vendors regularly tout utility-like reliability, stating that their infrastructure platforms can support mission-critical applications and be deployed and managed with minimal expertise.

That brings me to the point of this whitepaper: Wireless 2.0. First, let's define what Wireless 2.0 is. Perhaps an easy way to do that is to give you a list of characteristics of what we think Wireless 2.0 is:
  • The pervasive, flexible, and self-healing primary access layer
  • As deterministic as Ethernet, but with higher reliability and ROI
  • As resilient and scalable as the Internet
  • Secure and seamless mobility that is invisible to the user
  • Integration with and leverage of the existing Ethernet infrastructure (as opposed to an overlay)
  • Powerful, easy-to-use, and virtualized platform management that is available in a variety of delivery modes and cost models, including cloud-based.
To summarize Wireless 2.0 in a single statement, you could say it's, "Wi-Fi that works, so you don't have to."

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This is a great paper that's both extremely informative and "fun" - an adjective that I reserve for materials that are presented in an entertaining fashion.

I really like the way that this paper digs rather deeply into both the history and the evolution of wireless nets. In particular, the various sections address key issues that must be addressed as your WLAN grows. Additionally, the issue of whether and how cloud computing fits in the wireless environment is covered.

One of the aspects that makes the paper "fun," btw, is the inclusion of a number of rhetorical questions that make for excellent food for thought.

I found the discussion of cloud-based networking and WLANs to be particularly interesting.

From a stratospheric level, "clouds" kind of imply WAN services, so it seems a but oxymoronic to have cloud-based WLAN coverage. At the same time, you offer some quite nice options.

As one of the rhetorical questions, you ask "Would cloud-based management and/or a flexible cost model help your organization transition from SOHO-class to Enterprise-class Wi-Fi?"

Let me turn this about a bit and ask under what circumstances Aerohive would recommend cloud-based management as opposed to premises-based management?

Hi Steve. Thanks for your reverse-questionology. I'd like to first address your comment about implied services. Cloud-based management is a sort of hybrid-SaaS solution whereby part of the solution lives in your network (APs consisting of the data and control planes), and part of the solution lives in the cloud (management plane). In the interest of full disclosure, there's a new plane, that we like to call the application plane, that now lives in and across the APs as well. This is unique to Aerohive, the first vendor to create applications that control and utilize the wireless infrastructure's intelligence.

I would tell you that we have an "air plane" too, but that would just be a corny joke.

There are a variety of situations where cloud-based management comes in particularly handy and would be chosen over a premises-based management platform.

1) When a customer needs to assure adequate coverage and capacity for applications.

This may mean they need to spend a significant portion of their initial funds on the APs in order to purchase the AP density needed for voice, video, locationing, or other high-end application support. Opex funds can then be spent on AP management over the course of time.

2) When a customer doesn't want to manage their own HiveManager appliance or virtual appliance or doesn't have a proper data center.

3) When a customer desires full management redundancy without the cost or management overhead of installing and maintaining such a management platform.

4) When a customer has a distributed network, such as with K-12, retail, financial, healthcare, and various other vertical markets without existing pipes/tunnels to a central location.

5) When a customer is small (mid-market) and wants an enterprise-class Wi-Fi infrastructure a pay-as-you-grow management model. It's interesting to note that this sometimes leads to a point in time where customers transition off of cloud-based management and onto a premises-based management platform as their situation changes.

Does this give you some idea of the purpose behind HiveManager Online?



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