Managing multiple Wi-Fi access points (APs) in an enterprise environment used to demand a standalone, on-premises Wi-Fi controller. That doesn't have to be the case anymore.
Aruba Networks today announced its cloud-based Wi-Fi AP solution, Aruba Central. Aruba Central aims to enable easy cloud-based management of Aruba Instant APs across multiple physical locations.
This isn't the first time that Aruba has announced a hosted cloud approach to AP management. Back in 2009, Aruba announced its AirWave on Demand solution in an attempt to enable cloud management of wireless devices.
Aruba no longer offers Airwave on Demand as a solution that customers can acquire. Rajeev Shah, senior product manager at Aruba, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that back in 2009, Aruba did not have its Aruba Instant portfolio, either. Aruba Instant was first announced in 2011 as a controller-less architecture for APs.
"The real news is that we have a cloud management solution for branches with Aruba Central, but it manages only Instant networks," Shah said. "The true target for the Central solution is not large enterprises that already have a full controller solution in place."
The Aruba Central solution is a globally distributed system, hosted across seven different points of presence around the world. Shah noted that the solution is fully resilient and spans multiple cloud providers.
From a solution perspective, the Aruba Central cloud benefits from all the capabilities present in the Aruba Instant operating system.
"The reality is that the architecture is such that most of the adaptive Wi-Fi capabilities are in the Instant OS to minimize any dependency on the cloud service," Shah said. "So if for any reason the Internet link goes down at a branch office, the radio management system can still run."
The idea of being able to manage APs from the cloud is also one that Aruba's rival, Cisco Systems, is now also pursuing. Cisco acquired Cloud Wi-Fi management vendor Meraki for $1.2 billion in November of 2012. The Cisco Meraki solution set was recently expanded with new 802.11ac access points.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist