Any technology often sparks lengthy discussions, questions, and tends to summon some common misconceptions that can and should be disproven. Cloud Wi-Fi is no exception to this. I want to share some of the most common myths about cloud Wi-Fi that I’ve seen and show you why they are not reality.
It has been a long journey to get to where the industry is today – from fat APs that were manually and individually configured (imagine trying to do that for hundreds or thousands of locations) to controller-based architecture (the AP was a dumb device and the data traffic was tunneled to the controller where all the wireless intelligence resided) to controller-less Wi-Fi (with the control plane on the AP and the management plane in the central console). And now, with cloud-managed Wi-Fi, we can take a controller-less architecture and completely separate the control, data, and management planes for a cost-effective, powerful solution.
But let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions and myths about cloud Wi-Fi.
MYTH 1: Data is transferred unsecurely from your access point to the cloud.
The bottom line is: Your data is not going up to the cloud. The only thing that moves from APs to the cloud is management traffic. The Mojo cloud is only used to push configurations and policies during initial deployment or network changes, and to enable administrators to remotely monitor and manage the entire deployment.
Customer data traffic does not go through the cloud, which means data processing is faster, easier, and allows for more control over the data flow. All policies and configurations are designed in the cloud console – no controller required!
MYTH 2: If you lose connectivity to the cloud, your network fails.
Mojo APs are capable of operating in a “standalone” mode – without loss of any functionality – if the connectivity to the management server is lost (e.g., if the WAN link to the cloud goes down).
The Mojo APs maintain complete internal control. Their ability to interact with clients, provide access to the Wi-Fi network, and enforce security policies is uninterrupted. However, the cloud will alert you that an AP or a group of APs is offline and unable to connect. Overall, if a disconnection does happen, the effect is very minimal and unnoticed by Wi-Fi users.
MYTH 3: Cloud-managed Wi-Fi is expensive.
When you introduce cloud to a Wi-Fi network, it provides significant time, cost, and resource savings. Part of the reason for these savings is the “no-controller” approach, which means you save hardware expenses and resources for supporting the controller.
With cloud, you pay for just what you need, right now. You’re not paying for unused licenses, like you would with controller-based access points. Software configurable Mojo APs give customers the freedom to deploy their WLAN the way they want – minimizing the total cost of ownership and maximizing the flexibility to make changes, in software, as their networking and security needs change.
You also save big on installation time. Self-aware access points are capable of identifying their account automatically, so any number of devices can be installed and don’t need to be individually provisioned, so more APs can be deployed faster, further reducing the installation time. Additionally, configuration and network design is highly streamlined in a cloud Wi-Fi environment. A single policy can be distributed across all locations, rather than having to individualize the design for any location. The Mojo cloud is designed to support a massive number of APs for easy scalability and distribute policies across multi-tenant instances – without any type of additional cost calculations.
MYTH 4: You don't have to worry about security on Wi-Fi – all cloud-managed security is created equal.
With the proliferation of mobile devices in the past few years, networks are flooded with unmanaged devices. Personal wireless and Wi-Fi devices like smartphones, tablets, and USB data cards brought in by employees, visitors, and customers can put the enterprise security at risk. Conventional security measures (firewall, wired IDS/OPS, MDM, among others) provide zero visibility and no protection from these mobile risks. Instead, companies need a wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) to proactively protect their networks from wireless threats. Mojo is the only Wi-Fi vendor to ever receive Gartner’s highest “Strong Positive” rating for Wireless LAN IPS. Mojo WIPS is powered by several patented techniques to accurately and automatically detect, locate, and block wireless threats before they compromise your network.
MYTH 5: You will experience bottlenecks with cloud-managed Wi-Fi.
In a controller-based architecture, cloud based or otherwise, APs are either required to tunnel data traffic to the central controller or they rely on it for availability of many Wi-Fi and WIPS functionalities. This makes the central controller a choke point and a single point of failure. Instead, the distributed intelligence embedded in every Mojo AP makes the architecture efficient, fault tolerant and massively scalable. Mojo APs switch data locally and are capable of operating independently.