A fully functioning wireless network has become essential to the success of organisations of all kinds. Whether you operate from an office, shop, cafe, hotel or educational establishment, giving staff, students and guests the ability to connect to Wi-Fi is a business-enhancing opportunity.

Employees now connect to the internet via laptops, smartphones and tablets. They need to be able to walk around your premises – from desk to meeting room to staff canteen – and stay connected to your network. With services like hosted voice now becoming popular, they need to be available anywhere, on any device.

Wi-Fi is also a boon for guests. In an office environment, a visiting client may want to log on to share details of a new report, or go over a PowerPoint presentation. The easier that’s achieved, the better their experience will be.

In an educational setting, seamless Wi-Fi connectivity lets staff and students fully exploit the potential of digital learning.

And for retail and hospitality customers, guest Wi-Fi is increasingly seen as a standard and expected service. It also presents businesses with an excellent opportunity to get to know customers better and tailor their experience in a way that drives loyalty and sales.

The importance of a managed network

The importance of your wireless network is such that – even for small businesses – installing a Wi-Fi router and keeping fingers crossed is no longer enough.

You need to manage your network to ensure mobile devices can connect effectively, efficiently and securely. You need to optimise the network for your specific circumstances, and monitor it to make sure it’s always working optimally.

The underlying technology behind effective wireless networks can be complex, but managing them shouldn’t be. Gone are the days when network management required top-tier IT and networking skills. New software-based solutions bring sophisticated wireless networking capabilities to businesses with limited budgets and little or even no in-house expertise.

The wireless solution you need will depend on a number of factors, including the size and scale of the network, whether your operation is single- or multi-site, the number of users and the amount of traffic it has to support, and the presence – or otherwise – of an in-house network administrator. In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss the various options available.

Get informed with The Definite Guide to Managed IT Services

The basics of wireless network management

In essence, wireless network management is about making sure your staff, guests and – in an educational environment – students have the right level of performance to meet their needs, wherever they are on your premises.

The network needs to be easy to configure for use by everyone who needs it, giving each user appropriate and secure access. A network management solution needs to be able to distinguish between user types and determine which applications and information can be accessed by who. It also needs to be able to dedicate bandwidth to different uses.

The solution should run and maintain the network with minimal manual intervention. The easiest way to do that is to manage every network Access Point (AP) individually, via its web-based management interface. But that is simply too time consuming for most modern networks with multiple APs. Instead, the solution is a dedicated network management application.

A hardware-based wireless solution

Larger businesses with many APs often take a hardware-based approach to network management. They install a wireless controller as part of an on-premise set-up, and all traffic passes through it. This sophisticated piece of equipment then has a complete view of your network and everything that is happening on it.

These hardware controllers mean that numerous APs can be set up, configured and managed centrally. But it takes real technical expertise to do it. For that reason, the hardware solution is often used in the business-grade networks of larger organisations that want complete control of their wireless environment, and have the in-house expertise to achieve it.

A software-based wireless solution

An alternative is a software-based controller that can configure and manage multiple APs from a central portal.

The big advantage here is that you don’t have the costs associated with buying, housing and securing a complex piece of equipment. The requirement for in-house expertise is also greatly reduced, with potentially hundreds of APs configured and centrally managed from either an intuitive on-premise software management platform or a cloud equivalent.

D-Link’s Nuclias Connect is a software-based solution that can be used for single or multi-site networks and allows up to 1000 APs to be centrally managed. It’s free of charge, because it comes bundled with the necessary D-Link APs.

It’s also a perfect solution for small and medium sized businesses with up to 100 APs. In that scenario organisations also have the option of using the Nuclias Connect Hub, a standalone device preloaded with Nuclias Connect management software, offering a ready-made solution that is cost-effective, easy to install and ideal for organisations with minimal in-house IT support.

A cloud-based wireless solution

The simplest and most flexible approach of all is a cloud-based network management solution like D-Link’s Nuclias Cloud. With a cloud solution, setup, configuration and management can be carried out remotely through a web browser on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Cloud-based solutions are easy to install and use, making them perfect for small businesses without in-house IT support. Network configurations and software updates are automatically pushed out to devices through the cloud, meaning technical staff don’t have to be onsite for network installs or ongoing management.

Nuclias Cloud can manage both your wireless and wired network, simplifying your IT estate. It can manage an unlimited number of supported APs, making scaling the network simple and cost effective. A subscription payment model means you only ever pay for the capacity you need, and you can scale back and expand your network easily as your needs change.

Get informed with The Definite Guide to Managed IT Services

Nuclias Connect and Nuclias Cloud

So what is the right wireless solution for your needs?

What’s clear is that wireless network management is essential in the modern, digital-first world. But the exact solution will depend on your size, ambitions and what exactly you use your wireless network for.

Nuclias Connect and Nuclias Cloud both give you visibility of your network and easy ways to configure and manage multiple APs from a central platform. They offer enterprise-grade security, single- or multi-site networking and valuable business insight.

If you want to keep an on-premise solution, Nuclias Connect is the one to choose, though it can also be accessed via cloud. It offers a little more hands-on control than Nuclias Cloud, and may be more appropriate for larger SMEs with in-house IT staff.

Nuclias Cloud is the simplest and most cost-effective solution for businesses that simply want a network that largely stays in the background and works, offering an effective and secure wireless experience for staff and guests, with little fine-tuning required.

If you’d like to know more about Nuclias Connect and Nuclias Cloud, and the benefits of each for your business or organisation, please get in touch with our friendly team.