New Cisco Mobile Wi-Fi Deployment Model Targets SMBs

Filling what it called a key gap in its product portfolio, Cisco this week announced an embedded controller for Wi-Fi deployment.

Partners can sell Cisco’s Mobility Express solution, which targets small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) that are looking for increased control over their networks in an age of increased mobile devices, applications and data traffic.  

“… There’s a need for a totally enterprise-grade network with all the key capabilities. But trying to do so with less time, less budget and [fewer] resources,” said Rad Sethuraman, senior product management director at Cisco’s Mobility Services.

The controller goes on top of access points — the new 1830 Access Point or the already existing Aironet 1850 — which number up to 25.

Mobility Express users will manage their networks with the Cisco Wireless App, through which an Apple or Android mobile device can configure a network and oversee its life cycle.

The product connects SMB customers Cisco’s CMX analytics feature, which includes location-based services

[If] I’m a small retail store or maybe even a small K-12. Can you tell me where the users are spending time, when they come into my store, how long are they in there, where are they spending their time…?” Sethuraman said.

The three major industries listed by Cisco are education, retail and hospitality.

John Growdon, senior director of data center and enterprise networking at Cisco’s Global Partner Organization, said Mobility Express’ embedded controller environment completes Cisco’s set of architectural offerings. Up until now, the company offered three major models: stand-alone access points, controller-based and Web-based.

“With this announcement, we are filling a gap in our product portfolio that fills that fourth deployment,” Growdon said.

He said other competitors have built similarly labeled products during Cisco’s absence, but he said Mobility Express has unique aspects. In the case that a company grows beyond 25 access points, Cisco can help it grow out of SMB size. The access points can transition to a controller-based environment, Growdon said.

“You wouldn’t use CME in this case, but you would just use the essential controller, and we’ve written that controller to control these environments.” 

He calls it a “clear growth path from small all the way into larger environments.”

“It gives you investment protection,” he said.

Cisco has changed its Cisco Certified Network Association (CCNA) Wireless certification to add a focus on cloud managed and Unified Access wireless architecture and other wireless standards. Various support training is available, as well as a virtual site estimate tool.

“We’re extremely bullish on this one, because we’ve had a lot of competitors make businesses out the fact that we had a space here that we didn’t address appropriately up to that time,” Growdon said. “Now, we’re going to be able to come running back at it in a very competitive, very strong fashion.”

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