Cloudy with a chance of confusion

I feel I need to write about ‘Cloud Based/Managed’ WiFi Provision as its being spun out of control and its all getting very misleading. Let me make myself clear ; Cloud is King when utilised in the correct manner ( such as providing dashboard management)  but lets go through some of the common sales pitches I’m hearing from other providers.

You Wont need any equipment on site!

If you use access points with build in captive portal solutions such as Meraki you may not need to.  However, going down this route means offloading your DHCP and DNS , adds latency to your user AP roaming experience and still means you need to offload any private SSID for Staff/Conference networks to your own core anyway, resulting in a less than optimal management potentially with multiple partners involved just to make a simple change.

You wont need to install a dedicated gateway!

Is that a massive worry when you have 50+ access points, 5 POE floor switches, Core Switch, Leased Line Routers and WLAN controller already supported as part of the managed WiFi Service?  Utilising the WLAN controller is never as effective as using a dedicated Gateway as the limitations and functionality of the WLAN controller are very basic. Say goodbye to Layer7 Firewalling, dDOS protection, Conference Bridges, Bypass Lists, and low jitter VoIP.

Its redundant and resilient.

Airangel always try and quote for dual gateways on each installation we provide; using an RSTP core switch setup to eliminate single points of failure on the network.  After all, a working WiFi solution is key to guest satisfaction.  However, many providers that try and sell you down the ‘Cloud Managed’ solution rely on the WLAN controller.  We’ve already established that the service offering from these units is not on par  with dedicated gateways, and now they are the single point of failure.   Heck, many don’t even have dual power supplies meaning a simple PSU failure takes your network down.

Cloud Managed vs Cloud Provided.

We use a cloud based solution:  Its a private cloud running in London’s premier Telehouse colocation with backups across the UK.  All of our gateways are installed on the edge of the clients network ( where they should be!) and we have automatic checks to ensure if our core does go down , the gateways will switch to autonomous mode and carry on providing your guests with access.

Other providers opt to utilise hosted cloud based solution maybe because they don’t have the experience or background to install such a complex network or simply because they don’t want the hassle of running it themselves.

However, from a control point of view; Id like to know my providers are in control of their own networks if for no other reason than knowing how and where any data is utilised and stored.

In Summary

The point I am trying to make is this.  Why compromise your Network?  You want a network that can grow with you, is ready to support VoIP, IPTV, PDQ, Conferences and CCTV.  You want to ensure that your guest’s experience is a fast and easy to use as it can be and that means doing it properly by installing the core equipment on site.

I’d be interested to hear the views of customers in the Hospitality industry – please let me know if you disagree.







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