Press Release: Delivering Cloud-Based Wi-Fi with Robust Functionality and Unprecedented Affordability to an Entire School District

    

    

Amer Networks’ Cloud-Managed Wi-Fi Combines Robust Functionality and Unprecedented Affordability to Deliver Mobile-Device Connectivity to Boaz City Schools

Breakthrough Wi-Fi Solution Makes Digital Classrooms a Reality
in Northeastern Alabama School District

Toronto, Canada and Palo Alto, Calif., July 28, 2011 – Amer Networks, a manufacturer and global distributor of networking, storage and security products, and PowerCloud™ Systems, the leading software platform provider for cloud-managed networking services, today announce that the Boaz City School District in Boaz, AL, has upgraded its wireless network to Amer’s cloud-managed 802.11n wireless solution powered by CloudCommand™.

The multi-site installation demonstrates the district’s commitment to delivering digital classrooms and a 21st century learning environment to its 2,500 public-school students as well as Amer’s ability to provide an affordable Wi-Fi networking solution designed to meet the specific needs of the education market.

Key Facts

    • Boaz City School District is completing a 100-unit installation of Amer’s cloud-managed Wi-Fi networking solution, the WAP223NC access point, which delivers 802.11n coverage, business-grade features, remote-management capability and hotspot functionality to all five city schools and two administrative offices.
    • The Wi-Fi network will serve nearly 3,000 students, staff and visitors who can access the Internet from classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums, common areas, staff offices and even school parking lots.  Remote-management capabilities from the cloud enable a single IT administrator to manage all seven locations in real time, reducing network down time and eliminating most service calls.
    • Amer’s WAP223NC is the only Wi-Fi access point designed specifically for the education market and it is powered by CloudCommand, a cloud-managed networking platform developed by PowerCloud Systems that radically reduces customers’ total cost of ownership by managing networking equipment through the cloud.
    • With CloudCommand, Boaz education officials gain features such as: full-campus coverage; remote management; enhanced security with Individual Device Authentication (IDA); the ability to establish a single network across multiple locations; SMS alerting; and hotspot functionality that enables administrators to moderate network usage on a per-student basis.
    • Prior to Amer’s installation, each school operated an independent Wi-Fi network using Linksys and Apple hardware that was unable to handle the surging demand for wireless connectivity.  Officials note that many students bring two or more mobile devices to school each day and all network users expect fast, uninterrupted connectivity.  The district is committed to delivering a 21st century digital learning environment and considers secure Wi-Fi connectivity a top priority.
    • Amer’s solution costs a fraction of competitive alternatives.  The total cost for the Amer access points and cloud-based services for all seven district locations was considerably less than an established competitor’s quote to install Wi-Fi in just two locations.

Comments

Wayne Caudle, Boaz City School District IT director:
“We prepare students for success in the 21st century and that requires a digital-classroom environment with great Wi-Fi connectivity as its foundation.  Our high school students bring laptops to class and many use smartphones and even tablets on campus.  Robust connectivity is a must-have, and Amer Network delivers a Wi-Fi solution that can manage this increasing demand.”

“Amer’s cloud-based solution exceeded our operational requirements from Day One.  Students and staff effortlessly connected across campuses and between buildings.  Teachers can immediately start expanding their lesson plans to make technology a more integral part to their classroom instruction.  Features such as enhanced security and network monitoring enable us to provide an online environment that is safe, controlled and powerful.” 

Wai Lee, CEO of Amer Networks:
“The Boaz City School District understands the critical role technology should play in educating today’s students.  We are thrilled to help advance their education goals by providing a cloud-managed Wi-Fi solution that meets their needs and budget.”  

CloudCommand technology is what enables our partner, Amer Networks, to deliver a cloud-based Wi-Fi solution that combines great features with such remarkable affordability.

Simply put, no other networking solution on the market can deliver this kind of value.

Visit the Amer/CloudCommand Microsite to learn how one partner leverages our cloud-managed networking technology.

Read the Release.

Analysis: WLAN Management Takes to the Cloud (Part 2)

Earlier, we highlighted an important big-picture analysis about cloud-based Wi-Fi management and its bright future (see Part 1).  Writing in Network World, industry wireless analyst Craig Mathias predicts that cloud management is fast coming to a Wi-Fi network near you:

It would be hard to imagine any showstopper with respects to cloud-based WLAN management.

Mathias reviews a customized version of our CloudCommand technology that is used by D-Link in its suite of cloud-managed access points.  Here’s what he had to say:

Setup is very easy — just plug in the access points, go to the D-Link CloudCommand website, register with contact info, enter UICs for each access point (on a label on the bottom of each), enter SSID, set encryption options and guest access preferences, name the access points and enter their location, review everything and press enter — that’s literally it.

The console of CloudCommand is quite simple, with just a few tabs for a Dashboard snapshot view of settings, status and activity.

An interesting security option is to augment WPA2 with what PowerCloud calls Individual Device Authorization (IDA), a variant on the per-user key theme, in this case delivering credentials out-of-band via text messaging. Individual tokens are entered via the browser, and can be individually revoked as required.

Overall, CloudCommand is a simple but effective management console that would be especially at home in smaller installations.

We anticipate that PowerCloud will be adding new features on a regular basis.

                                                         

(Pictured: DAP-2555 Indooor AP and the DAP-3525 Outdoor AP)

The review is a powerful indicator that growth in cloud-managed Wi-Fi is poised to explode.  It’s an exciting moment for the networking industry as we enter a paradigm shift.  All networking companies are going to need cloud-managed Wi-Fi products.  There are only a few companies that provide cloud-based Wi-Fi solutions, and only PowerCloud Systems allows existing networking vendors to leverage our technology.

Read the report. (login required)

Analysis: WLAN Management Takes to the Cloud (Part 1)

There is no reason, based on available capabilities, that a cloud-based WLAN management system could not completely replace a local implementation.

That’s the frank assessment of veteran wireless analyst Craig Mathias of Farpoint Group.

In a breakthrough analysis for Network World, Mathias reviews the cloud-management software that powers 3 wireless networking products, including D-Link’s DAP-2555 which is powered by CloudCommand.  He has identified a major paradigm shift and predicts that traditional Wi-Fi management will transition to cloud-based management within several years.

The movement is already underway.  Early adopters are on board, and several years from now we may point to this review as the seminal moment when broad acceptance for cloud-based Wi-Fi management began.

To evaluate the merits of cloud-managed WLAN versus traditional WLAN management, Mathias asks 3 critical questions:

  • Is there a compromise in capability between cloud and traditional WLAN management systems?
  • What do the economics of cloud-managed WLAN really look like?
  • Can cloud capability literally move the network operations center into the palm of one’s hand?

The review includes a version of our customizable CloudCommand online software platform that powers the D-Link DAP-2555 AirPremier N Access Point as well as Aerohive’s HiveManager Online and Meraki’s Cloud Controller service.

Mathias is highly impressed by what he sees today…and even more excited by what’s in store for the future:

It’s about capabilities – services deployed cost-effectively, reliably, and location-independently – not hardware. It’s about the economics of the contemporary organization – minimizing capital and operating expense without compromising functionality – not having title to all of the required pieces… Even the list pricing in each case is enticingly low enough to generate a lot of interest.

Thus the shift: It’s about fundamentally location-independent services, not products. As we’ve seen in the sampling explored here, the range of function is broad, the services responsive and simple to use, and each is clearly effective and worthy of further consideration…

Bottom line: the cloud is coming to WLAN management.

Cloud-managed Wi-Fi has arrived, and we are at the early stages of a major paradigm shift.  Growth is poised to explode.

It’s worth noting is that the Network World review focuses on cloud-based network management.  It’s an extremely important topic and this review is must-reading for anyone in the networking space.  But we see an even bigger revolution coming in the much broader category of cloud-managed networking.

In Part 2 of this posting, we’ll highlight Mathias’ observations about our CloudCommand technology.

Read the report (login required)

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