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Offering managed wired and wireless LAN: Why a unified strategy?

Many companies turn to partners for managed wireless LAN to lower costs. Pavlov Media took that business model a step further, offering combined managed wired and wireless LAN.

For Pavlov Media, a provider of Internet, telephony and television services to multi-dwelling unit communities, offering managed services means much more than providing remote network monitoring or help-desk. The company installs and remotely manages combined wired and wireless LANs in a range of communities from 200-unit apartment complexes to college campuses with thousands of residents.

Ultimately, Pavlov customers can order their WLAN and LAN and then have it installed and managed without ever having to hire an on-site networking team.

Pavlov Media executive vice president Bob Grosz sat down with SearchNetworkingChannel to discuss  the technology and business models behind offering fully managed wired and wireless LAN works.

Can you explain Pavlov's basic offering in managed wired and wireless LAN?

Bob Grosz: Pavlov's main business is to run solutions for [multi-dwelling unit) communities. So we do a fibre optic backbone [between residences] and then we put together a fully managed wireless network on top of the wired local area network. We've applied Ruckus Wireless connectivity throughout. As a managed services provider, we manage all of the local area networks with wireless access points (APs) all the way down to the end user devices.

Why do you need wireless LAN on top of wired LAN at these sites?

Grosz: We're seeing about 70 percent of our Internet traffic on wireless devices -- everything from an iPhone to a laptop. So we need a wireless network as well as the wired network. The wired network is used for very high throughput applications.

How does centralized management for Ruckus APs work?

Grosz: We have a 24-by-7 center that manages all the devices. We use the Ruckus FlexMaster product, which  allows us to manage [APs] from one screen all across the country, really in the world. And then we also use a local network controller that provides the ability to manage the mobile access from a more granular standpoint. We control the number of devices accessing the access points and we can load balance among access points. Ruckus provides global management from a single screen all the way down to very sophisticated  granular access point management all from one location in Champagne, Illinois.

Are these thin APs or fat APs?

Grosz: They're sort of in between. They're not as fat as some access points on the market today where all of the intelligence happens at that edge, but they are aware. It's not like they're unmanaged devices. They are all designed to interface with their management suite. There is intelligence at the local area controllers.

Are those controllers then centrally managed?

Grosz: All the work is done from the centralized location. There are no full-time employees that manage the network. We have field technicians, but we really need everything to be centrally managed.

Can you manage the LAN and WLANs together?

Grosz: The LAN infrastructure is more standardized across the industry, so we really use three different types of hardware products. We use Cisco, we use HP and we use DLINK's enterprise gear. We use Ruckus across the board on every wireless deployment. In terms of managing LANs, we manage through basic SNMP management software. We have network management monitoring software and some of it is proprietary, and some of it is off the shelf.

Is there an implementation cost and then a monthly management fee?

Grosz: It's a long term service contract model. The client will either purchase the equipment up front with installation, or we have a finance entity that will help finance that [installation]. Then the client enters into a long-term service contract for three to seven years where they pay a flat amount per month and we provide turnkey services. We register every device that comes onto our network, we monitor the device and application so we can shape peer-to-peer traffic. If [residents] are not paying their rent, we can actually discontinue their Internet service. For one flat fee [customers] get this full suite of services from network management to device and application management.

You talked about delivering applications using the wireless network. Do you offer video?

Grosz: Today it's primarily your basic Internet applications. We do have two deployments in a beta test with IPTV for a very large company using IP video conferencing, and we're pushing that through our networks using public Internet bandwidth and our local area networks and wireless networks to take the video to a laptop or an IP set-top box.

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