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Which Wi-Fi Brand Solution?

Wireless networks offer businesses the opportunity to perform business as usual – anytime, anywhere throughout the entire business premises. Now you’ve made the decision to go wireless, it’s important to make an informed choice about the strategy you deploy.

Brand strategy solutions often arise from internal preferences and remaining with brand choices already in place. As noted by Gartner, 2016 “Over 70% of clients prefer a single vendor to deploy their access layer solution”. However, it is important to consider the growing variety of enterprise-grade equipment. Most products offer similar capabilities for wireless networking and design, the differentiation arises at the price point and how the available feature set can fulfil your specific needs.

STEP 1: Define Your Needs

Defining the needs of your network and the performance requirements truly supersedes brand selection; Wireless networks are neither simple nor easy to design and deploy if you want them to perform.

• Identify the amount of bandwidth you will require, the type of usage your network will undertake.
• Identify the number of people to be serviced
• Measure the size of the area to be serviced
• Understand the limitations of your building

See more: Top three considerations when deploying Wi-Fi

Once you have identified your performance requirements, you can select your preferred brand. Next conduct a site survey to identify potential interference and to design the best location for your access points.

STEP 2: Brand Solution

For wired and wireless networks, Gartner is the world leading research and advisory board. Their annual research is of great value and the magic quadrant (below) is the result of all the findings from the August 2016 release of information.

MAGIC QUADRANT
FIGURE 1. MAGIC QUADRANT FOR THE WIRED AND WIRELESS LAN ACCESS INFRASTRUCTURE

Magic Quadrant

 

Key Points:

• Cisco and Aruba rank far higher than any other competitor
• 16 strong competitor markets
• 3 newcomers including Xirrus, ZTE & Fortinet
• Brocade and Ruckus acquisition are represented together.

To assist you in your brand selection, we would recommend reviewing the Gartner 2016 report which details each brand in detail. Below, we have summarised Gartner’s Strengths and Cautions for 4 preferred vendors. Aruba, Cisco, Aerohive and Ruckus (Brocode) produce excellent enterprise grade equipment.

Aruba

Strengths

• ClearPass provides guest access, device profiling, posture assessment, onboarding and more.
• Aruba’s management and service applications (ClearPass, IMC, Meridian and AirWave) support non-HPE devices simplifying multi-vendor environments.
• A wide selection of HPE (Aruba) switches come with hardware lifetime warranty.
• Free technical support in business hours for three years on most Aruba switches.

Cautions

• Granular support and real-time functionality is not available on legacy HPE switches.
• Aruba continues to invest in its cloud offering, “Aruba Central” which lacks the same functionality as ClearPass and AirWave offerings.
• Aruba’s pricing model is based on a feature licensed sales model, which contrasts with HPE’s broad available lifetime warranty.

Cisco

Strengths

• Cisco is the world’s largest networking company, ranked 1st by Gartner.
• Cisco has made advances in location granularity with the Hyperlocation module.
• Enhanced antenna solution enables Cisco Aironet access points to locate and track wireless clients with 1-3-metre accuracy.
• Mobility Express provides a controller-less deployment capability using all 802.11ac Wave 2 access points (AP 3800, AP 2800, AP 1850 and AP 1830), confers fast and easy provision capability to manage existing Cisco access points.
• CMX provides Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Wi-Fi location services, an application toolkit and reporting capabilities that include rich analytics.

Cautions

• Two-access layer connectivity product lines are developed by separate development teams.
• Features for one product line may not be available with the other.
• Inconsistent user interfaces and different capabilities remain for security, guest, network management and policy enforcement.
• Cisco sales and partners present only one access layer option, either on-premises or in the cloud.
• Cisco product lines need to be evaluated and understood in terms of the limited migration options for existing Cisco customers and minimizing additional costs.
• Meraki’s cloud subscription is available for one-, three- and five-year options.
• Changes in pricing after the initial term may affect the overall total cost of ownership of the purchasing decision.

Aerohive

Strengths

      • Aerohive’s managed service offering provides a flexible dashboard for service providers to implement a single cloud-based solution that allows for multiple billing options.
      • Simplicity in deployment and ease of use of both cloud managed and on-premises deployments are key benefits.
      • The cooperative control architecture eliminates the need for large Layer 2 domains.
    • Provides seamless roaming across Layer 3 segments.

Cautions

      • Aerohive has a limited wired switching portfolio.
      • This represents a very small percentage of its overall revenue
      • Aerohive is one of the smaller players in the market, with limited visibility and penetration outside its core markets (distributed enterprise, education and retail) and geographies (North America and EMEA).
      • Offers limited indoor location services
    • Relies on application developers to use Aerohive location and presence APIs

Ruckus

Strengths

      • Prior to the acquisition, Brocade already had a technology and sales partnership with Ruckus, providing a jump-start to the integration of the two companies.
      • Brocade Network Advisor provides easy management options for stacking and fabrics across the entire ICX 7000 family.
      • Includes health monitoring of the Ruckus product family.
      • Ruckus access points and Brocade ICX switches have the flexibility to be re-used across multiple network architectures.
      • Ruckus access points can be used in controller-less, cloud, virtual and hardware-based controller implementations.
    • Brocade ICX switches can be re-used in stacking, spanning tree or fabric architectures.

Cautions

      • Over 95% of both Brocade’s and Ruckus’ solutions are sold through partner channels; ensure the partner selected can deploy and support both solutions for the intended useful life of the product.
      • While Cloudpath offers policy, device and certificate management for both wired and wireless endpoints, it has limited enforcement capabilities.
      • Verify the offering addresses usage scenario for all Ruckus and Brocade products to be deployed.
      • Prior to the acquisition, Ruckus maintained multiple wired switching partners, and Brocade had multiple WLAN partners. It may take time for service organizations and service plans to be coordinated.
    • Enterprise decision makers should understand future product roadmaps, document their service plan and understand any changes in coverage.

 

Selecting the right products can be challenging. It is important to choose a service provider such as NetWireless (a vendor-independent advisor), who will be able to obtain the best choice of equipment that meets your performance requirements and industry vertical at the right price point.

About NetWireless

NetWireless is an independent vendor specialising in WiFi design and deployment. Speak to our technical consultants today (CALL 1300 324 844) to ensure your Wi-Fi infrastructure will meet your needs. A simple Wi-Fi survey can be conducted to identify the ideal solution for your facility.