Enterasys Networks Inc., a Siemens Enterprise Communications company, with partner PCM Inc. is rolling out PCM Cloud Wireless Service, a fully managed cloud Wi-Fi option for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
The service is built around Enterasys high-performance IdentiFi Wi-Fi access points that are located at the customer site and cloud-based management and control using the Enterasys OneFabric management system.
According to Mike Leibovitz, director of mobility and applications for Salem, N.H.-based Enterasys, the new PCM wireless cloud service differs from those of competitors Cisco Meraki, Aerohive Networks and Aruba Networks in that it will be managed by PCM and not the customer.
He noted that there are two approaches that the market is taking to cloud Wi-Fi. In one approach, customers purchase hardware and a yearly subscription fee that gives them access to a management system that's hosted in the cloud. The other approach is a more traditional managed or outsourced offering.
"We combine the hosted and managed services model with no customer resources -- or additional head count needed to design, deploy and manage the day-to-day [operations]," he said.
Calling the new offering a true Opex model, PCM Cloud Wireless Service doesn't require any up-front capital to purchase access points or any part of the infrastructure. For a single monthly cost, it's an end-to-end solution including implementation, configuration, day-to-day management, reporting, etc.
While PCM, which is based in El Segundo, Calif., is the first Enterasys partner to offer the service, Enterasys is open to having additional service providers offer the wireless cloud service. Charlie Van Pelt, director of North American channels at Enterasys, said there are a number of requirements that partners must meet, such as having a data center facility, high availability, disaster recovery and a ticketing plan.
For partners that are interested in offering the service but don't have their own infrastructure, expect to see a partner resell model that includes a white label option from PCM by the end of the year.
Van Pelt sees a big opportunity for partners to offer the service to their SMB customers that don't have the head count or skills to manage and deploy their own wireless infrastructure and those that have distributed deployments.
Leibovitz sees the partner opportunity in markets such as education, hospitality, retail and, in some cases, healthcare for clinics or remote locations.
Enterasys has 400 to 500 active partners in North America. According to Van Pelt, the upcoming acquisition of the company by Extreme Networks, announced in early September, will only strengthen what each vendor offers, including this most recent cloud offering.
"Enterasys and Extreme have little overlap in the partner community in general," he said, noting that both companies have a strong channel focus.
Van Pelt said each company will initially run its own channel program but that a single partner program will emerge overtime.
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