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Avaya joins vendors offering cloud-based management of WLANs

Avaya plans to offer in the first half of next year cloud-based management for its access switches and WLAN 9100 access points.

Avaya has introduced cloud-based management tools for the access points and switches the vendor sells to companies building or upgrading a wireless LAN.

Avaya said this week it plans to make the Cloud Networking Platform available in November for the company's WLAN 9100 Series access points (APs). The cloud-based management platform will include tools for Avaya access switches in the first half of next year.

Providing cloud-based management for its switches "could potentially be a good differentiator given Avaya's broader switching portfolio," said Matthias Machowinski, a senior research director at IHS Inc., based in London.

A recent IHS survey showed a significant number of companies were considering cloud-managed WLANs, Machowinski said. "It [survey] shows a major shift in WLAN management models over the next two years -- from in-house to public cloud-based tools."

Avaya is not the first vendor to offer cloud-based management for WLANs. Others include Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Brocade Communications Inc. The Avaya platform is based on technology "sourced from a strategic partnership," the company said in an email. Avaya declined to provide details.

The Avaya cloud supports thousands of APs providing internet connections to tens of thousands of users, according to the vendor. Each AP processes security and traffic, so the devices continue to operate autonomously if the cloud connection goes down.

Cloud-based management features

The platform includes an access portal that lets guests self-register before connecting to the corporate network. The portal also provides multi-factor authentication methods for employee access.

An online management console lets network managers configure APs to prioritize business-critical applications while restricting the bandwidth allotted to others. Managers also have the option of blocking specific web applications.

Also, managers can set application-level security policies to conform to PCI DSS and HIPAA regulations. Network operators can also create role-based profiles for various administrators to limit access to the console.

The WLAN 9100 Series comprises a dozen AP models with a variety of specifications for low- to medium-density locations, such as offices and classrooms, and high-density places, such as sports arenas.

Hardware is sold separately from the Cloud Networking Platform. Licensing for the latter is available in one-, three- or five-year options. A license includes the access portal, software for the managed APs and phone and web support.

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