Motorola Solutions unveils first virtualised Wi-Fi controller

Company introduces a suite of hardware and software-based virtual controllers offering massive scalability and a new level of simplicity, along with unified access for any size enterprise

Motorola Solutions unveils first virtualised Wi-Fi controller

Motorola Solutions has introduced a suite of new Wi-Fi infrastructure management products providing virtualised and centralised management options and unified access across wireless and wireline networks.

Mark Smith, sales director enterprise networks & communications, Europe & Africa at Motorola Solutions, (pictured) said: “Customers want flexible, accessible and cost-effective solutions when it comes to their wireless networks.

“Motorola’s new suite of solutions allows businesses to extend their networks into the cloud with the most scalable options on the market, whether it be the VX 9000 or NX 7500. Additionally, the new EX 3500 switch will provide true unified access and standardised policies across both the wireless and wireline network.”

VX 9000

The most radical product is the new VX 9000 virtual controller, which offers businesses one of the most scalable WLAN cloud solutions on the market, while still providing the functionality of Motorola’s NX hardware controller.

The VX 9000 software-based virtualised controller supports up to 25,000 access points in a single instance and can scale to support multiple instances, bringing a new level of simplicity and hardware independence to the WLAN. The key benefit is that there is no hardware. It can be used in an existing data centre or put it in something like Amazon Cloud – the point is there is no Capex involved.

NX 7500

Motorola’s new NX 7500 multi-service platform is designed for midsize enterprises and campus environments and offers comprehensive management of more than 2,000 access points.

The NX 7500 is an extension to the existing product line and was developed directly at the request of customers looking for a mid-size network controller. Field upgradable to 10G, the NX 7500 integrated service platform offers a built-in solid-state drive for maximum protection of critical data — including analytics and applications.

Powered by Motorola’s WiNG 5 Wi-Fi operating system, the NX 7500 ensures optimal RF performance, speed and throughput by enabling every transmission to follow the fastest and most efficient route to its destination.

EX 3500 switch

The third product is the EX 3500, which is designed to complement a Motorola  WLAN, delivering unified access with all of the wired networking requirements for branch and remote office deployments. The economical, standalone solution offers the features of a wired access switch with the advantage of centralised management and standardised policies across both the wireless and wireline network.

The EX 3500 switch features gigabit Ethernet speed and Quality of Service (QoS) to ensure high performance for applications. Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) support eliminates the need to run power cabling, making installation fast, easy and cost-effective.

AirDefense Bluetooth Monitoring

Motorola also announced new security enhancements to its AirDefense portfolio to help detect suspicious Bluetooth devices. AirDefense’s Bluetooth Monitoring is the world’s only solution that can help retailers be on the lookout for Bluetooth-enabled payment card skimmers.

AirDefense Bluetooth monitoring is a cost-effective, easy-to-deploy solution that can be up and running in as little as a day, improving payment card security without increasing operational costs.

The WiNG 5 operating system provides the advanced brainpower required to create network awareness for the WLAN, allowing every piece of infrastructure in a wireless network to work together to route every transmission as efficiently as possible

Motorola’s WLAN Management Service assures performance and availability of business-critical WLAN networks. The service encompasses security and compliance, including rogue identification and threat mitigation; network assurance, which includes troubleshooting, proactive testing and forensic analysis, support for centralized management and policy configuration of Motorola WiNG 5 infrastructure.

Market trends

At the launch of the new products last week (10 April 2014), Mark Smith said Motorola’s aim is to design wireless networks that are mission/business critical, noting that the company invests over US$1bn per year in R&D.

He said that after two tough years in 2012 and 2013, Motorola is observing an upsurge in economic confidence. “IT spend is returning with both Capex and Opex budgets opening up. We are also seeing an increasing demand for overall solutions. Our sales guys are now talking to chief marketing officers, so we can discover their business needs and find a solution that is much more than just about installing Wi-Fi access points.”

The company is being asked to help address the rise of mobility where people no longer expect to be tethered to one single place, but want wireless connectivity wherever they happen to be.

Real-time data capture

It is also being asked to help capture real-time data, but also to transform the data captured by the Wi-Fi management system to provide insight into customer behaviour, so this can be used to improve workflows and customer service. For retailing, it is about how increase basket spend; for hoteliers it is about improving the customer experience and potentially monetising Wi-Fi services.

Smith added: “Customers are also asking themselves whether they want a lot of equipment on site or whether they want someone to take that burden away from the business by using the Cloud. We are also saying, here’s your Wi-Fi network network, here are the services we can overlay on it and do you want us to take on some of the management burden?”

Smith noted that the wireless trend is for more centralised access point management, increased migration to the Cloud for apps and content storage and a move towards unified access. The latter involves one vendor providing a single source wireless and wireline solution, so customers can implement consistent policies for users, devices and networks. However, there is still a strong demand for Ethernet switches to support legacy devices – hence the EX 3500.

Growth strategy

Motorola strategy for growth involves speaking the language of the customer, according to Smith: how to reach the connected shopper, hotel guest or sports fan. “It is not just about point of product sales, you have to get the whole infrastructure right. If you do that, hearts and minds will follow. If you get the infrastructure wrong it’s no good.”

Smith highlighted the UK, Ireland, Germany, France and Benelux as key geographic areas with the indirect channel being the chief route to market, concentrated on a small number of very focused resellers, although direct sales are also used.

Smith said there has been a real upsurge in interest from places like Africa and Turkey. “But you’ve got to go in and understand that marketplace and ensure the technology does not overtake the capacity of the end users,’ he warned.

He added that Motorola dominates the retail market and is strong in transport and logistics and manufacturing. It is now increasingly looking at the hospitality market and to a lesser extent healthcare and education. “The aim is to focus on solving customer problems,’ said Smith.

More services at lower cost

Gary Singh, responsible for WLAN and apps in enterprise networks & communications, Europe & Africa at Motorola Solutions, said the fundamental shift in Wi-Fi is for more services at a lower cost.

He also noted that US$ 2bn out of the US$4bn enterprise Wi-Fi market is largely convenience Wi-Fi – universities for example, rather than enterprise, where the business will suffer if the Wi-Fi network is down.

“The convenience side has a lot of young users with high expectations and that means challenges for vendors to meet that. But we don’t tackle this area, hence we don’t target the knowledge space. Instead, we focus on where business and value proposition is the greatest. Improving the total cost of ownership (TCO) is our overall market proposition,” said Singh.

‘We are looking at the omni-channel experience, which retailers are trying to put together. This forces the whole supply chain to change the way it does business. How does your network go from supporting some point of sale devices and a few others used by retail staff, to supporting thousands of shoppers coming in and using their mobile devices?” asked Singh.

Customers are facing the challenge of meeting the cost of changing their networks to keep pace with the way the business is changing. Singh said: “For us it is a battle between increasing the mission criticality of the equipment, which means the product often gets more expensive, and lowering the TCO. We’ve got to balance the two.”

Turning to the new products, Singh commented: “With the VX 9000 we have got rid of the on-premise controller by virtualising it and putting it in the Cloud. The new Ethernet switch is there to support the arrival of the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.

“Customers need to upgrade their backend infrastructure to ensure the best use of their 802.11ac networks. We are building unified switches for one reason only: to support 802.11ac. There is no need to invest in upgrading your wired access – just do enough to support 802.11ac”.


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