HP: Here's How We Can Cut WiFi Costs
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading
LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- HP this week announced new enterprise WiFi services, including cloud management capabilities designed to save small to midsized businesses (SMBs) up to 30% on management costs.
I wrote about those on Monday, but I was curious where the cost savings came from, so I followed up with Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) the next day to get more details. (See HP Beefs Up Its SDN Portfolio.)
Steve Brar, manager of global product marketing for HP Networking, told me the savings are derived from enterprises no longer needing to buy and deploy controllers to manage WiFi access points locally. Instead, the Cloud Network Manager is centralized, operating in the cloud. The cloud-based controller implements policy, such as setting SSID and password requirements.
The new Intelligent Management Center (IMC) provides additional management for HP's 850 and 870 APs (also part of the HP's announcements Monday). The IMC is on-premises software that unifies policy across wired and wireless networks, and implements mobile device management (MDM) for enterprises.
The announcement also includes three management applications designed for software-defined networks (SDNs).
The first is Network Optimizer for Microsoft Lync, which does what it says on the tin -- makes Microsoft's messaging software run better.
A second app is Network Protection for SDN, which also does what it says on the tin: security.
And the Location Aware app is a platform on which businesses can build applications to pinpoint devices to an accuracy of 1 to 2 meters. HP built a proof-of-concept app for the location-aware service, SmartShopper, designed for retail. We talked more about those in our story Monday as well.
The sweet spot for the HP SMB service is organizations with five to 20 APs, each with 20-50 users. So HP's definition of an SMB is actually pretty big.
HP also announced SDN Roadmap Service for SDN, a consulting service to help enterprises and carriers develop a transition plan to SDN.
HP Networking's goal is to turn the network into a strategic asset for enterprises. "We're transforming the network from a cost center to a revenue opportunity," Brar said.
Sounds great -- but HP was short on specifics on how to achieve that. The SmartShopper app is a good start; in our earlier article, Kash Shaikh, HP Networking senior director of marketing, told Light Reading how a shopper in a supermarket might search for Cheerios on an app and be directed to the right spot on the right shelf where the Cheerios live. (As this kind of app actually rolls out to supermarkets, it'll be interesting to see how many supermarkets direct shoppers to the Cheerios by the shortest path, and how many direct shoppers past the cookies, candy, and other potential impulse purchases first.)
Brar and I also talked about how casino-resort complexes -- such as Las Vegas's Mandalay Bay, where Interop is located -- could use mobile apps and WiFi location services to direct visitors to restaurants, shops, and other revenue opportunities. Mandalay Bay is, in fact, doing just that, along with a half-dozen other big resort hotels owned by MGM that comprise a hefty chunk of Las Vegas. MGM uses Cisco technology, rather than HP's. (See MGM Resorts Bets Big on WiFi.)
Hospitals and other businesses that use expensive equipment could use WiFi location for asset management, Brar said.
What's in it for carriers? Greater demand for WAN and regional networking services, of course, as well as providing consulting and services to help enterprises implement all this technology.
Many vendors talk about turning networks from cost centers to profit sources. It's the rare enterprise that's actually able to do so.