IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Cloud-Managed Wi-Fi: A Boon for MSPs

Cloud-managed Wi-Fi is a natural evolution of networking technology and offers compelling—and increasing—benefits for MSPs and their customers. By John Tippett

THE CLOUD. Two words that represent one of most transformative technologies of the last decade. Just consider how much of both our personal and business activities reside there. Moreover, because our reliance on it will only continue to grow, so too will the importance of our ability to access it reliably and consistently.

This creates tremendous opportunities for managed service providers.

MSPs understand firsthand the importance of cloud access. In fact, your clients often pay you to ensure they have it—and demand a response if their SaaS apps lag or VoIP service is choppy. While you’re ensuring their reliable access to hosted services, however, you also want to make sure you’re maximizing the opportunities the cloud affords you as an MSP.

With that in mind, I offer you three more words: Cloud. Managed. Wi-Fi.

Although cloud-managed Wi-Fi certainly isn’t new, it’s an underutilized component of an IT network that offers your clients tremendous advantages, while also providing benefits for your MSP business.

Client Benefits

The most obvious client benefit of any hosted service is the savings realized by the elimination of on-site servers or controllers. Or in the case of companies using a hodgepodge of components, it removes the inconvenience—or nightmare—of managing multiple devices, each with its own login and password, and each with its own firmware updates and critical security patches.

Cloud-managed Wi-Fi brings these same benefits to networking, offering remote access and centralized management. This alone represents a strong value proposition for your customer. Add to that the benefit of greater reliability and stability.

Currently many Wi-Fi vendors offer management software that must be installed locally, or integrate control with existing hardware, such as a firewall. However, if any of these on-sites solutions were to fail, the cost of downtime for a company can be steep.

Wi-Fi is an integral component of almost every company; think about how many devices in an office are connected through Wi-Fi. Any significant downtime has the potential for substantial loss of revenue: Employees can’t work, and point-of-sale systems can’t process transactions. Plus, of course, you have frustrated clients who are probably demanding that you drop everything to respond to their crisis.

By eliminating on-site hardware and shifting Wi-Fi management to the cloud, though, you completely remove the scenario of single point of failure.

The latest cloud-managed Wi-Fi systems also bring new, best-in-class technologies such as mesh networking. Even in cloud-managed Wi-Fi, access points may occasionally fail, which is where mesh technology really shines. Mesh provides an overlap in coverage between access points that essentially eliminates any gaps until a replacement is installed.

Mesh technology combined with cloud-based controllers also greatly simplifies deployment. While some access points will require Cat5/6 wiring, many can be set to operate in repeater mode and require only power. This reduces the number of cable runs, resulting in faster installation and causing far less—or no—disruption to office routines.

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