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It's a wireless world...

Will wireless be the next big managed service offering? Heather Wright talks to one distributor who believes it could well be, and gets expert views on wireless and mobility in general.

It wasn't that long ago that wireless was new and exciting. Now, well, it's just part of the network, right?

“Wireless has matured to the point where everyone is putting it in or looking at putting it in, if they haven't already got it in,” says Mark Dasent, Connector Systems ANZ general manager. For the Auckland- based distributor, wireless is a strong and growing part of the business – in June it accounted for 30-40% of its business.

Connector's experience is in keeping with reports from industry analysts Gartner. In their Forecast for Enterprise Network Equipment Spending, Gartner reported that market revenue for wireless LAN solutions, along with firewall and VPN, will grow strongest of all network equipment spend through to 2018.

But despite being common, wireless still has a few tricks up its sleeve, including new variants promising ever great throughputs.

Dasent says the move now is around cloud based wireless offerings, and the move away from needing controllers. “We're seeing a move away from controllers as virtualisation of wireless takes shape.

“All of the main vendors are offering virtual controllers now and we're not selling controllers as much anymore,” he says.

The move to virtual controllers means managing multiple Wi-Fi access points can be done via the cloud, doing away with the need for 'overpriced' standalone, on- premise controllers.

Dasent says where once controllers were required because access points didn't have the smarts themselves, 'there's now more guts to access points and they can handle all the control aspects'.

For customers, he says, it makes things a lot cheaper, without the need to invest in controllers which can cost between $5000 and $20,000. It's also a lot easier to manage and easily scalable.

“For companies which have several buildings, or even want to add an access point in the same building, you can add the access point to a new location and not have to add controllers.”

And for resellers, he says that means an easier to manage, sell and support solution and cost savings.

“I'd like to see resellers taking up the concept of offering wireless as a managed service.”

He says while a couple of Kiwi resellers have made inroads in the area, 'it's still early days’.

“But it's a big opportunity, I believe.

“As a distributor it doesn't worry me how people buy wireless, so long as they buy, but from a reseller point of view, it would be easier to get buy-in from customers and to differentiate yourself from your competition.

“If you're competing like for like it often comes down to price point. By offering it as a service you can get rid of some of that conversation around price.

While Aerohive has always opted for controller-less options, most other vendors have also jumped onboard now, Dasent says, with Aruba, Ruckus and Cisco among the contenders.

Come September, Aruba will be offering resellers the chance to reskin the vendors cloud offering.

Dasent says the move to virtual controllers, and cloud-based offerings, is changes the way wireless is sold and opens the door for wireless to become a service resellers add to existing contracts. “It doesn't have to be a big upfront cost to invest in wireless. For an extra $50-$100 a month, added to an existing contract, resellers or managed service providers could offer wireless as a service based contract.”

The IT management cloudDermot McCann, Kaseya Australia and New Zealand managing director, says he believes the vast majority of Kaseya’ channel partners are already embracing managed services in one form or another.

“There’s significant opportunity to do it and a lot of value that they can get by adding managed services to traditional resells.

“Since 2006 we have seen new entrants, and resellers trying to expand. And nowhere more prevalent than mobility.”

McCann says the industry is making a shift to what Kaseya has termed ‘the IT management cloud’. The company is clearly backing that move, having now branded itself as ‘the IT management cloud company’.

“Resellers are having to support greater numbers of devices and data than before. And where data has traditionally been on premises, one of the biggest changes is that now it’s not and channel partners are having to manage a raft of different environments – legacy on-premise, virtualised, outsourced infrastructure as a service, private cloud, public cloud, third party cloud such as Azure or Salesforce.

“Then you’ve got the mobile environment, which encompasses all of that,” McCann says. “It’s a complex challenge.”

He notes that the traditional approach has been to manage the mobile device itself.

“We’re seeing a need to deploy containers on the secured device to secure and support – and segment – the large amount of data.”

The consumerisation of IT is also forcing channel partners to develop different user experiences for mobile savvy users used to more intuitive interfaces.

“There’s work to be done around creating more intuitive applications and GUIs and making more seamless technology for enabling mobile management.

“And having IT management in the cloud, that can grow.”

A year ago, Kaseya acquired business service management solution provider Zyrion, followed one week later by the acquisition of Rover Apps, for its BYOD functionality.

At the time the company noted that the acquisitions reflected its move to be a more ‘multi- dimensional provider of service and mobile management solutions with an eye to cloud/hybrid and consumer driven IT’.

McCann notes that the move to virtualised and cloud, doesn’t mean old technologies have gone away. “It’s that new has been added on top.”

He says that’s why Kaseya is pushing the IT management aspect.

“We’re on a mission to be the defacto IT management cloud provider for service providers and mid-market companies.

He notes that 60% of Kaseya’s new business this year has been on the cloud side.

“That means 40% is still on premise, so there’s clearly appetite for both.”