Why cloud-managed Wi-Fi demand will surge with next enterprise tech refreshes
And why causing a Ruckus is a good thing.
Pervasive virtualisation and cloud adoption have moved more apps to the cloud and made edge connectivity more prominent and wireless. The advent of new and more efficient Wi-Fi such as 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 is expected to prompt a new wave of refresh cycles for enterprises.
Enterprise connectivity now supports more users, devices and applications for an increasingly mobile workforce. The best end-user experience has become a key priority, especially when business critical apps, workflows, operations are conducted over Wi-Fi.
On the other hand, enterprise IT departments are constantly asked to do more with less. Budgets are shrinking, making the task of supporting growing service-level agreements towards end customers an increasingly daunting one.
Moreover, Wi-Fi administration is becoming extremely time-consuming, especially in managing multiple, geographically dispersed sites. In addition, it often requires specialised skills or at the least, lots of training hours, to be an effective WLAN administrator.
Further, the issue of poor-quality Wi-Fi is a top enterprise concern. Reliable connectivity and good performance is critical for both employees and guests. As more operations are digital and connected, the Wi-Fi network is also critical to keep operations running smoothly and securely.
But many IT organisations are not able to scale cost-effectively to accommodate the inevitable growth in demand for more Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 6 is designed to allow for wireless data rates up to 10 Gbps. It supports today’s increasingly congested radio environments, such as airports, stadiums, hotels, apartment and commercial buildings and entertainment venues. Wi-Fi 6’s multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO) technology enables any compatible access point (AP) to handle traffic from up to eight users simultaneously at the same speed.
However, to fully harness Wi-Fi 6’s true benefits, organisations need the right cabling infrastructure out to the AP. Wireless APs are evolving with increasing data rates. They are no longer just serving as transmitters, but also as a converged access platform where multiple functions are performed.
Future-proofing switching infrastructure is another important consideration in preparing for the deployment of Wi-Fi 6 wireless APs. Powerful Wi-Fi 6 APs warrant equally powerful switching infrastructure to deliver the best end-user experience. Organisations have been refreshing their Wi-Fi networks every three years to keep up with changing Wi-Fi standards and equipment, as well as a significant increase of devices per user.
In this regard, IT departments are increasingly opting for cloud-managed Wi-Fi, rather than on-premises Wi-Fi, because they can:
- provision, manage, control and troubleshoot their Wi-Fi setup efficiently i.e. do more with less.
- keep Wi-Fi infrastructure secure and up to date with latest software and patches across the whole enterprise at all times.
- scale their Wi-Fi infrastructure without having to expand their staff.
- get real-time analyses of security incidents or breakdowns and utilise customer feedback, reports and data to improve business decision making.
- reduce time they spend on mundane support activities such as equipment maintenance and software upgrades.
Untethered in the cloud
For these reasons, IDC has reported that the cloud-managed Wi-Fi sector has been growing at double-digit rates year-over-year, making it the fastest growing segment of the Wi-Fi infrastructure market. Growth has been driven by organisations seeking cloud WLAN management solutions for their distributed Wi-Fi sites to tap several advantages, including faster scalability, ease of management and a pay-as-you-grow subscription model.
A cloud-managed network makes possible the rapid roll-out and support of advanced services across a range of verticals, including education, hospitality, brick-and-mortar retailers and assisted living facilities. It aligns with the need to meet the diverse demands of today’s modern use cases, such as Internet of Things (IoT) deployments.
Enterprise-grade Wi-Fi has become an essential platform for supporting new business opportunities by enabling innovative ways of interacting with customers and stakeholders. Beyond extending the useful life of infrastructure, IT departments are often challenged to provision, monitor, optimise and troubleshoot an enterprise-grade Wi-Fi network. The CommScope Ruckus Cloud enables IT departments to achieve this with intuitive simplicity via a single web dashboard or mobile app.
A cloud-managed network simplifies the deployment and management of Wi-Fi networks by eliminating the need for on-premises controllers. With cloud-managed Wi-Fi, even small IT departments can remotely and easily add users and wireless APs; administer guest networks; and even manage entire Wi-Fi-enabled buildings and campuses.
Administrators can also use Cloud Wi-Fi settings or network configurations to optimise radio frequency resources, such as limiting number of clients connected to a single AP and manual channel selection. Examples of Cloud Wi-Fi use cases include helping brick-and-mortar stores push truly personalised offers, solicit feedback via surveys, and support proximity marketing campaigns via detailed in-store analytics. Hotels can also enhance the overall guest experience, starting with no-wait check-in and continuing with personalised Wi-Fi connectivity, way-finding, and Wi-Fi tagged room service trays.
Cloud’s eye view
CommScope’s Ruckus Cloud offers several specific advantages for companies and organisations. They include:
- Great Wi-Fi performance: Using patented BeamFlex and ChannelFly technology, it performs well in any RF environment, even where there is high device density, high loss, and high interference.
- Lower TCO: Capex/Opex is significantly reduced without sacrificing performance. Compared to competing solutions, it is able to deliver as much as 60% savings in deployment cost while being able to handle double the number of clients per AP.
- Simplified management: Intuitive UI and workflows via a native mobile app provide IT departments network-wide visibility and control. The app enables IT to easily deploy, monitor and manage the WLAN from anywhere.
- Investment protection: Migrate from one Ruckus architecture to another to meet changing needs. If subscription ends, APs can be reused with any other Ruckus wireless architecture: on-premises, cloud, controller-less.
Cloud Wi-Fi’s built-in reports, backed by a big data engine, stores up to 6 months of detailed reporting data. They include Top Clients for tracing and analysing bandwidth use; Application Visibility to identify top applications on the network; and Session Inventory to re-port the Wi-Fi usage of systems.
Cloud Wi-Fi works with the latest 802.11ax and 802.11ac APs for indoor and outdoor installations. The bottom line is that CommScope’s cloud-managed Wi-Fi promises simplicity of deploying and managing a distributed Wi-Fi network that is more scalable than with on-premises controllers.