Enterprises are being offered options when it comes to moving Wi-Fi control or management functions into the cloud. There have been three companies who have launched products lately.

Aerohive has announced its wireless LAN management tools would be made available in the form of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) called Aerohive HiveManager Online while Aruba Networks has said that its SaaS product, AirWave OnDemand, will be available in December. These follows Meraki's launch of its Enterprise Wireless LAN System in May.

Coupled with new 802.11n dual-radio access points (AP) hovering around the $700 mark, the moves could help get the ball rolling with 802.11n deployments in budget-conscious companies. They are also intended to entice integrators, resellers and carriers to use the platforms to deploy managed Wi-Fi services to enterprises, hotels, campuses and multitenant units.

Alone, the offerings from Meraki, Aerohive and Aruba's AirWave division are not managed services, but, rather, hosted services. They move management servers and appliances (and in Meraki's case, WLAN controllers) into the cloud so that you don't have to house, administer and update them. But a third party could build a full-blown managed service on top of the platforms.

Both Meraki and Aerohive have removed the controller CPE requirement at enterprise sites, albeit in different ways. While Meraki has placed the control and management functions in the cloud, Aerohive had already done away with the controller by bundling control functions into its distributed HiveAP "cooperative control" APs in its initial architecture.

Now, Aerohive has moved its HiveManager appliance into the cloud to unburden companies that don't want to deal with it on site. But the company will continue to offer the HiveManager appliance CPE, as well as new VMware-based "virtual appliance" server software option, for those who do.

In Aruba's case, the setup still requires on-premises controllers where enterprises have thin-AP/controller systems installed. The AirWave management tools can be used with 15 enterprise-class WLANs (both the older fat APs and newer thin APs/controllers) and thus relies on the respective vendors' controllers to control their own APs in those architectures.

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