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December 2014 Vol 5/ No. 8

Cloud network management for the WLAN booms

When cloud-based wireless LAN (WLAN) management services hit the market several years ago, their feature sets were limited compared to their premises-based counterparts. Their primary adopters included mom-and-pop shops and small offices that had little or no IT personnel but wanted something a step above a consumer-grade Wi-Fi hotspot. Two vendors dominated the space: Aerohive and Meraki.

But after Cisco's acquisition of Meraki in 2012, more vendors jumped into the fray -- with Aruba and Xirrus entering the market last year, followed by HP, Motorola Solutions and Ruckus Wireless staking a claim this year. The platforms' capabilities matured and expanded -- with many now offering management for compatible wired network devices -- putting them on par with traditional WLAN management software. The model is attracting the attention of larger, distributed enterprises looking to expand their wireless networks more efficiently.

Cloud wireless network management is now one of the fastest-growing segments of the wireless infrastructure market, and network engineers who use the approach say they can't imagine life without it. But it's not for everyone. Find out why in this issue of "Network Evolution."

Also in this issue, we look at three real-world use cases for white-box switching that bring the concept of network programmability out of the lab and into the enterprise. And finally, we explore unified communications (UC) federation products and services, which aim to facilitate truly integrated, multi-vendor UC but have yet to take off.

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