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Cloud Computing Comes to Wi-Fi Networks

Cloud Computing has been a popular option in the software arena. Companies can offload some of the responsibilities for managing their applications to third parties, ideally reducing their IT costs. Now, one vendor is attempting to push that concept into the wireless LAN marketplace.
Cloud Computing has been a popular option in the software arena. Companies can offload some of the responsibilities for managing their applications to third parties, ideally reducing their IT costs. Now, one vendor is attempting to push that concept into the wireless LAN marketplace.Meraki, launched the Meraki Enterprise Wireless LAN product line, which consists of the Meraki Enterprise Cloud Controller, and Merakis MR 802.11n wireless access points. The Meraki single radio MR11 supports throughput of 300M bps and the dual radio MR14 works with 600M bps of data.

The service supports automatic radio frequency planning, Quality-of-Service (QoS) features for voice and video, 802.1x security authentication, and the ability to create multiple virtual-LANs on a single physical network. With the products, a company can manage multiple geographically distributed wireless networks from a central location. A Meraki Enterprise Wireless LAN system covering an office of approximately 20,000 sq. ft. starts at about $3,000; a mid-sized system, covering approximately 100,000 sq/ft, starts at $15,000; and a large system, covering as much as 500,000 sq/ft, starts at less than $75,000.

Merakis idea of providing cloud based network services is interesting and logical, given the success that this model has had in other market sectors. The vendor does face a few challenges in promoting its work. Whether or not the company will be able to provide customers with adequate response time is an open question. The fledgling supplier has focused its attention on campus Wi-Fi networks and has success in markets, such as hospitality and education. Time will tell how much of an impact its cloud based model will have, but chances are that other vendors will develop similar services, so it should be an option that small and medium companies will need to consider.