By now, cloud-managed wireless has certainly gained legitimacy. To over-simplify, cloudy WLAN is often touted as both an alternative to hardware-heavy and maintenance-intensive controller-based Wi-Fi solutions, as well as being marketed as a good fit for environments that have limited IT staff at distributed sites. Enterasys is now taking that second point even further; the company is offering a completely outsourced cloud-managed solution that you pay someone else to worry about- from planning to installation to daily operations.
Sure, outsourcing is dirty word to many of us in the IT world, but Enterasys’ strategy has merit for certain situations. With every new technology release (both on the infrastructure and client device sides), wireless networking gets ever more complex. Many businesses simply can’t afford to have wireless professionals on staff to keep it all on the rails, yet business Wi-Fi is pretty much a must any more for most of us. Rather than limp along on a Hail Mary solution pieced together by consumer-grade parts or blowing HR budget to get a WLAN pro on staff, there likely is a sweet spot out there in Customer Land for the Enterasys Experiment.
Here’s the Important Stuff:
- Enterasys has partnered with PCM, Inc for the customer-facing end of the 100% turn-key service offering
- The WLAN hardware is the IdentiFi line, while OneFabric provides the cloud/management magic
- Remember, this is managed all the way- the most the end customer gets is a read-only glimpse of what’s up
- PCM or it’s subs will plan, design, upkeep, respond to trouble, and even do AP upgrades when it’s time as part of the service
- The solution is aimed at small-to-medium businesses that need reliable wireless but don’t have the staff to pull it off
Find out more here:
My Own Take On Enterasys’ Offering
It’s a big wireless market, and only getting bigger with more nuanced use cases. There should be room for what Enterasys is attempting, but at the same time I offer:
- I know little of PCM’s capabilities or track record. Enterasys’ success in this venture depends on the quality of the PCM Cloud Wireless Service experience and how it’s executed for each customer.
- In any local market, how the actual support model plays out will be interesting. I’d hate to be a Syracuse, NY customer that has to wait for service from a technician in New Jersey or Boston. I don’t know that this would be the case, but similar services in other technologies (CCTV, security, etc) often have enormous service areas.
- It’s one thing to say that “this is 100% turn-key”, but if it ties into a business LAN, eventual finger pointing is inevitable when something isn’t clicking as it should, whether it be PoE or DHCP/DNS. Potential customers need to be aware that if the entire network isn’t outsourced but wireless is, sooner or later you’ll need to provide a resource or two to help with issues.
As managed services becomes more a part of major WLAN vendors’ blueprints, I’d expect to see more of these announcements.