The Stack Archive

News: Wi-Fi access management goes into the cloud

Wed 16 Apr 2014


Networking equipment maker, Ruckus Wireless has launched a cloud-based means of managing Wi-Fi access points remotely enabling managers to monitor users and present tailored products and services to them for purchase.

Called Smart Wi-Fi Access Management Service (SAMS), it lets businesses create and customise wireless hotspots for single or multiple sites without building extensive data centres, or deploying infrastructure typically required for offering managed Wi-Fi access services.

SAMS combines necessary infrastructure components and service elements. It is aimed at organisations or venues offering managed public wireless access, such as shopping malls, stadiums, convention centres, airports and retail outlets. SAMS moves the local network infrastructure, such as WLAN controllers, authentication servers, captive portals, advertising engines and content filtering, into the cloud as a service.

“The benefits the cloud brings to the wireless access market is undeniable,” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. “Beyond delivering world-class Wi-Fi infrastructure solutions, with SAMS, Ruckus continues to give its partners and customers the ability to realise greater value from Wi-Fi through innovative new services such as Cloud-based access, location services, rich analytics and the ability to begin monetising their networks.”

SAMS delivers flexible deployment and management options through a Web-based portal that allows highly customised Wi-Fi access services to be defined and created in a matter of minutes, and provided at a low TCO.

Customers define the attributes of the wireless access service required at a given venue, and then have an authorised Ruckus Big Dog channel partner turn on the services for them, either for existing Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi customers and/or those who desire to keep a traditional wireless LAN (WLAN) configuration (onsite subscription) or after just installing the requisite number of Ruckus ZoneFle access points (APs) onsite (hosted subscription).

The venue benefits from wireless connectivity at each site, supported by an easy-to-use cloud-based platform that scales on demand within a ‘pay as you grow,’ fully managed cloud service.

Ruckus claims SAMS has been tailored for venues looking to more easily offer users wireless access without the need for multiple services from multiple vendors and extensive IT staff or infrastructure equipment at every site. SAMS also represents a new managed services opportunity for channel partners looking to become managed service providers (MSPs), by creating recurring service revenues with minimal investment.

SAMS includes web-based management tools, including flexible and customisable advertising tools that are simple and easy to create and set-up through a wizard driven setup. Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi access points automatically “phone home” to register with the cloud controller but if the access points can’t reach the cloud controller, local access services are not disrupted. Administrators have a range of controls, such as creating AP zones, templates and management domains for different customers.

Customers have control over service branding and functionality, such as the ability to enable authentication with popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Service enforcement controls can be used to limit the length and number of sessions, restrict bandwidth consumption or filter access to specific content.

SAMS also provides a set of user analytics that can be collected over periods of time. Each venue is provided with a view into their wireless access service from a single web-based dashboard showing popular registration methods, total user sessions and visits, new and returning users visits, registration by device type, age group and gender, and the most popular devices being used on the network, as well as the average duration of user sessions.

It will be available worldwide beginning in May, priced on a yearly subscription basis per access point (for either a 1, 3 or 5 year subscription period), for $265.50 per AP per year (hosted subscription

Research group IDC, last month, predicted that the worldwide enterprise market for cloud-managed WLAN infrastructure and managed services is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2018 .

The report said: “Cloud computing has shifted the paradigm of enterprise IT from being hardware driven to service driven. As more enterprises seek new ways to optimise existing resources and build capacity at the network edge, expect to see the rise in Cloud-managed Wi-Fi adoption continue for years to come.”

According to the report, Enterprises are searching for increasingly sophisticated network functionalities despite continually tight budgets and limitations around infrastructure, space, and staffing. Moreover, many Enterprises need a singular, centrally managed and controlled network for branch locations that are geographically dispersed.

Chris Wheal


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