Network equipment maker D-Link last week announced the release of a cloud-managed Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) the company says was designed with SMBs in mind. The first of its kind, the business-grade DAP-2555 AirPremier AP packs support for dual-band 802.11n and Power over Ethernet (PoE). Other features include an intrusion detection capability, support for a guest network with firewall protection, and individual user management with two-factor authentication and encryption.
What makes the DAP-2555 really stand out is its support for the cloud-based CloudCommand platform. According to D-Link, CloudCommand is an "online software platform based on patented network virtualization and usable security technologies." Created by Xerox PARC spin-off PowerCloud Systems, CloudCommand is not only incorporated in the DAP-2555, but also a couple of other APs from D-Link due to be released in 2Q 2011-such as the Plenum-rated DAP-2565 AP and the outdoor DAP-3525 AP model.
D-Link is apparently the first major networking vendor to support CloudCommand, though it is understood from a Network Computing report that PowerCloud Systems is making preparations to announce partnerships with "well-known component makers" that will offer out-of-the-box support for CloudCommand. Not having seen the service in action, I am regrettably unable to comment on the functionality and ease of use of the compliant devices.
It is clear to me that the DAP-2555 AirPremier was created as an alternative to large Wi-Fi deployments that revolve around a centralized controller device such as Ruckus Wireless' ZoneDirector Controller. In contrast, I can understand the appeal of managing one's appliances from a maintenance-free portal with no need to purchase additional hardware. Indeed, the DAP-2555 is clearly addressed at the current void between non-scalable, consumer-grade Wi-Fi equipment, and expensive enterprise platforms designed with complex deployments in mind. The incorporation of CloudCommand eliminates the need to pay for a hardware controller, which can lead to substantial savings. And of course, yet another appeal of a cloud-managed platform is how it allows service providers to sell related remote administration and management services.
On the flip side, a cloud-managed platform does have its own set of disadvantages, too, and not having complete control over one's devices could be grounds to reject it in some organizations. For now, the DAP-2555 AirPremier comes with a one-year CloudCommand subscription and is available through resellers at an MSRP of $399.