By Rick Wilmer, CEO, AirTight
The opportunities that cloud-based Wi-Fi offers the channel, both in terms of CPE-focused sales and as the basis of managed services, are amazing. The last few years have seen the rise of zero-touch-deployment access points, the eradication of complex controller hardware, the development of simple, intuitive management interfaces, and extension of that management to mobile devices that make today’s deployments easier and more lucrative than ever before. Combine this ease of engagement with rock-solid security and you have an extremely compelling and channel-friendly access connectivity offering. All this at a time when increased use of mobile devices is driving demand higher than ever.
Cloud-based Wi-Fi: Raining Business Benefits for Users and Resellers
Today’s cloud Wi-Fi optimizes efficiency and cost savings for both the customer and the channel. In some cases, the solutions are so simple to deploy and manage that equipment can be drop-shipped directly to SMB and mid-market customers from the manufacturer, eliminating the need for even a truck roll on the part of the reseller. Once received, automatically-configuring access points can be hung by practically anyone with a ladder, greatly increasing partners’ addressable markets and service footprints while reducing their staffing and training overhead.
Combine this simplicity with growing acknowledgement of the need for enterprise-grade Wi-Fi from business of all types and sizes, and you have a recipe for success that crosses geographic, vertical and economic boundaries. Businesses today have a true and compelling need for fast, stable Wi-Fi connectivity, for their own internal use as well as for their customers and guests. Crossing the gap from consumer-grade access points purchased at their local electronics retailer, where most SMBs and mid-market businesses begin, to a truly enterprise-grade solution has never been easier and more obvious than it is today, enabled cloud-based architectures.
Safety in the Air: Simplifying Security for the Mid-market
Security is another key consideration for the mid-market, and another historically complex solution set made dead simple by today’s advanced Wi-Fi solutions. The prevalence of hacks and data breaches in the news today keeps security top of mind for businesses and their customers, who want to know that their communications, and more importantly their financial transactions, are completely safe from eavesdroppers and identity thieves.
Unfortunately, security has traditionally been somewhat difficult to implement and maintain, often resulting in well-meaning small and medium businesses disabling it to ensure high performance of their wireless networks. In today’s world,, Wi-Fi vendors must consider the user experience when it comes to security, not just the technical capabilities of their solutions.
By making security easier to implement, with intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces, easily understood policies and clearly illustrated reporting capabilities, vendors are making it easier for end users to implement Wi-Fi security, and lowering the bar for sales through the channel.
Not too long ago, selling, deploying and servicing Wi-Fi networks required in-depth technical expertise on the part of the reseller or managed service provider, increasing overhead and limiting the segment to a minority of the channel landscape. WiFi vendors offered long and tedious training courses, which led to just a few people channel partner SEs with the knowledge to sell WiFi. This has not historically been a “channel friendly” product category. Today’s solutions make entry into this extremely profitable and practically unlimited market an obvious decision for channel partners of all types and sizes.
Rick Wilmer is CEO of AirTight Networks. Prior to joining AirTight as COO in December 2014, he served as CEO of Leyden Energy and was an executive-in-residence at Lightspeed Venture Partners. He previously served as CEO of Pliant Technology (acquired by SanDisk) and as COO of Santur Corporation. Prior to that he was head of business operations at Aruba Networks, from its early days through its IPO in 2007. Wilmer also served in executive engineering and operations roles at 2Wire, Seagate and Maxtor.