WiFi is among the most preferred connectivity options and cloud aims to reduce dependence on hardware equipment. And the intersection between the two innovative ideas promises to push the contrivance of technology further.
In this article, we’ll explore the crossroad. The benefits of cloud are so many that it’s nearly impossible to count them all. As for WiFi, it is all set to become the default networking standard. The marriage between the two is a lofty proposition for ordinary Internet users and also for startups.
There are two ways cloud makes inroads with WiFi. One is through a wireless controller and the other through software as a service solutions for network connectivity. Which of these two models should small businesses focus on? Let’s explore the two different types of WiFi.
Cloud-Enabled Wireless Controller
There are network vendors that promise to offer connectivity through completely cloud-driven wireless access points (WAPs). For this model to work, subscribers have to connect to a cloud-based wireless controller. A cloud-controlled wireless controller is a logical extension of the cloud routers, which are used in homes.
How do cloud-based wireless controllers work? They work just like hardware-managed wireless controllers. The only difference is the access points run on the cloud. Is this model useful to small businesses?
Small businesses hardly enjoy any benefit from this model being non-reliant on hardware settings. It doesn’t reduce the operating cost of the network providers, and by charging their customers an arm and a leg, those providers make the cost of using cloud wireless controllers heftily expensive.
Besides, the entire structure of the company becomes dependent on cloud. Subsequently, if the network provider’s server ever goes down, then that will spell connectivity failure for the company that is using its cloud-based wireless controllers.
Vendors can make the situation worse by upgrading their platforms, thus compelling their customers to move to an upgraded and costlier plan. Industry observers have noted that such updates are usually unnecessary.
That’s not the only scary part of the story. If a vendor upgrades its platform, then the server may be down for some time, during which small businesses won’t be able to carry out their work.
Cloud-Managed WiFi Solution
The software as a service model is the antithesis of the wireless controller driven WiFi structure. The cloud-based model requires controllers that are costly. Such a model also consists of unique points of failure, which put the customers at risk of connection downtime. The biggest advantage of a cloud-managed platform is even if the cloud link goes down, the WiFi still stays on.
The cloud-managed model of WiFi guarantees network up time through a very simple means. Providers run the platform with the help of cloud, but don’t put the controllers in the cloud. That’s the reason the access points for customers stay unaffected even if the cloud server goes down.
To sum it up, the benefits of cloud-enabled WiFi are the access points, switches and routers all running on the cloud, the functionality of the devices not being controlled by any controller in the cloud, and the absence of single point of failure owing to its controller-less architecture. This is what allows devices to operate even when the cloud server is down.
Cloud Vendors and Industries
To harness the power of cloud WiFi, it’s essential for a small business to select an esteemed cloud vendor. An engaging WiFi experience is possible if the provider uses a unique platform. A platform such as this should consist of a broad range of tools including advanced applications for analytics. Such platforms let providers download the software development kit (SDK) and install all the tools on their servers.
A small business can hail from any industry, but the ones that require WiFi most include retail, healthcare, finance, transportation, hospitality, education, service and delivery. By making the need for physical hardware unnecessary, cloud WiFi offers the following industry-specific advantages:
- Retail: Enhances the in-store experience for shoppers
- Hospitality: Allows boarders to stay connected round the clock
- Healthcare: Facilitates communication and saves data
- Finance: Enables better syncing of data
- Education: Ensures the delivery of the right educational resources
As we can see, the second model is the most beneficial out of the different types of WiFi available to small businesses. The benefits are not exclusive to cloud WiFi, but cloud increases WiFi performance and ensures better network up time and protection of data. Both of these are necessary for small businesses around the world.
Cloud Office Photo via Shutterstock