We are constantly moving towards improvements in technology that promote the principle of least effort, i.e. opting for the method that enables expenditure of the least amount of effort in order to realize the maximum amount of gains. That is to say that we wish to spend less and less efforts in order to perform more and more work. Cloud Managed Wireless Networks are a clear example of this principle in effect. In the present day, it is almost impossible to think of life without connectivity to a certain wireless network, generally the Internet, but also in a corporate environment the corporate network. Work cultures have changed dramatically even when compared to just a decade or two decades ago. Offices no longer restrict employees to the usage of office-issued devices and have adapted instead to providing secure services accessible via any device – including the employees’ own devices. This itself is a result of a lifestyle change in our culture wherein every person carries multiple mobile computing devices at all times capable of wireless network connectivity. Hence, we expect any and every location we are at to possess wireless network connectivity.
The basic template of a Cloud Managed Wireless Network is that the business owner only needs to install the basic hardware required for creating a local wireless network on the remote site or office. Often, this hardware can be pre-configured and shipped so that it becomes plug-and-play hardware that can be assembled even in the absence of trained professionals. Moreover, the amount of hardware actually installed on site depends on how much network control functionality is required on-site. In the most extreme cases, a simple wireless router with an internet connection is all the hardware that is needed. The actual network control tools are all present on a cloud and only accessible via the cloud interface. These tools may also include a large number of virtual hardware that are normally installed along with the rest of the wireless network infrastructure, but have instead been shifted to the cloud since the functionality their physical presence on-site provides is not needed there. The person controlling and managing the network need not be present at any specific location to access the cloud, and hence control the network. The network manager only needs access to the cloud interface in order to completely manage, control and troubleshoot not just one but several remote wireless networks. This cloud interface can come in many shapes and sizes depending on the company that markets it, including web-browser plugins, dynamic web-page based GUIs, standalone programs and even mobile apps. Thus, a centralized team of IT professionals, who may even be operating from their respective homes, can effortlessly monitor and manage a number of local wireless networks belonging to the company’s remote offices using the cloud interface. Alternately, a team of contracted IT professionals can manage the wireless networks of a number of client networks consisting of very small businesses with no IT staff of their own. All these services generally operate on a subscription basis.
i. Simplicity. The entire process of setting up a wireless network has been greatly simplified. The business owners who used to train as or hire IT professionals simply because they needed someone to manage their wireless networks can now subscribe to periodic payment based services which cover all their needs.
ii. Flexibility. Pre-configuring hardware before shipping it and only shipping as much hardware as is required to fulfill a business’ needs, leaving scope for future changes or increments enables businesses to wield a great deal of flexibility. They can easily rent cheap, small scale initial services till they feel the need to purchase better services.
iii. Cost Reduction. Since businesses no longer need to purchase all the hardware required in one go nor maintain IT staff solely to troubleshoot occasional hitches in the network, they can save these costs and invest the money elsewhere.
iv. Efficiency. Cloud Managed Wireless Networks are not just convenient, they are also modular. Hence, any business can increase their efficiency of work by delegating network responsibilities more easily, taking control of only the necessary functionality and letting dedicated professionals tangle with the rest.
i. Cloud Downtime. Any cloud service can experience downtime due to a number of reasons. When the cloud goes down, all network services and features directly dependent on the cloud go down as well. This could include such functionality as is critical to the normal operation of the business. Therefore, businesses need to carefully consider how much control they wish to delegate to the cloud and how much they wish to retain on-site. Moreover, if there are absolutely no IT professionals available on-site, then even if a business is able to operate normally during cloud downtime it will be teetering on a thin edge since any further complications in the local network can no longer by resolved.
Increased Bandwidth Usage. With any cloud based service, there is bound to be at least one link in the network topology where an internet connection is required. Increased dependency on cloud services directly translates to increased bandwidth usage. Therefore, businesses will have to counter balance their cost savings with the increased bandwidth usage charges before making a business decision to adopt cloud based networking services.
i. HP Cloud Network Manager
ii. Aruba Networks AirWave Management Platform
iii. AeroHive Networks HiveManager Online
iv. Akamai Cloud Networking Suite
v. Cisco Meraki
vi. Xirrus Management System
Wireless network connectivity requires more than just installing the requisite hardware in the right places. It also requires an IT professional to configure and design the entire infrastructure so as to suit the needs of the owner of the network as well as constant maintenance and troubleshooting. Large and expansive networks may require dedicated teams of IT professionals to constantly work on maintaining them whilst the smallest scale personal wireless networks may only need a once-in-a-month service from an IT professional. Hence, establishing a wireless network becomes a huge headache for very small business owners, such as general stores, cafes, bookshops, and so on, as well as for large scale businesses with a large number of geographically separated small and remote offices. In the former case, the owner will probably need to either learn how to manage the network themselves or else periodically hire help from an IT professional which can be quite expensive. In the latter case, the business will probably need to permanently station a small IT team at each office to manage the corporate network, or else employ remote desktop access tools, which carry significant overhead costs. Cloud Managed Wireless Networks have resolved these issues for both types of businesses.
Every entity aims to achieve greater gains, in terms of decreasing efforts required to do work, in terms of rewards for its actions, in terms of contentment from its existence. It is therefore no surprise that cloud based services are so well received and so popular among corporates. Most businesses are uni-dimensional juggernauts – capable of performing extremely well in their chosen field of expertise. But surviving in a corporate competitive environment requires a more holistic approach, thus the market for consultancy services. Cloud Managed Wireless Networks are an excellent example of how the ability to reduce the burden on one aspect of running a business allows many corporates to increase their operative efficiency while simultaneously creating an excellent market for businesses specializing in reducing that burden to grow in.
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