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Meraki, Fortinet, Aruba, Aerohive and the art of Cloud Management

It seems like almost every IT vendor these days boasts a cloud-managed product line. Meraki, Aruba, Fortinet, Aerohive, and the list goes on. So what does cloud-managed mean, and why is it a good thing? And who does it well?

What is Cloud Management?

Cloud management combines different software and hardware in the same cloud-based ecosystem. Typically, these different technologies are brought together and managed in one interface, on one screen. A ‘single pane of glass,’ as the vendors sometimes call it. So all your access points, firewalls, switches, and so on can live together, talk together, and work together online. No matter where they are located physically. Here we’ll go over the major features that some of the top platforms offer.

Meraki

One of the first to innovate a cloud-managed platform, Meraki is also one of the very best. They are perhaps the most clean, user-friendly, and intuitive interface out there. This makes models like the MR20 and MR36 hugely popular for those who are not expert IT-types, but still need a secure network.

Over the years they have added firewalls, switches, cameras, phones, and more to their dashboard. But everything is still easy-to-follow and uncluttered. It’s easy to go from one thing to another on the fly.

Meraki also has a strong set of “live-tools” in the interface. This allows easy remote troubleshooting. Most of their devices also have a third radio that can be used for spectrum analysis. This is a great tool for troubleshooting connectivity issues.

Meraki’s subscription-expiration policy is something you need to know about. Meraki products will stop working if your subscription expires. They do provide you a 30-day grace period and will alert you in a number of different ways, however.

Aruba Central

Aruba has always been a very well respected wireless vendor (the AP203H and AP303H are currently on sale). They’ve received acclamation for their RF design and enterprise feature sets. With Aruba Central, they provide another way of controlling their outstanding hardware. And it’s compatible with most of their access points that use their Instant architecture.

Aruba’s cloud interface retained the same look and feel as their already-popular controller platforms. This was a smart move that made it easier for organizations familiar with Aruba’s management to understand their new cloud interface.

And you can manage other devices in the Aruba Networks lineup besides just access points. Devices like many of the switches they inherited from the ProCurve lineup. And, if your Aruba Central subscription lapses, their access points will retain the last known configuration provided by Central and keep running as Instant access point. However, you will need to remove them from the cloud inventory before being able to manage them directly again.

Aerohive

Aerohive’s original platform, which they are now calling Classic, had a huge feature set. However, the interface wasn’t all that intuitive and much of the flow felt disjointed. It took a fair amount of practice to really learn it. However, it was incredibly granular and provided pretty revolutionary features for the time.

Well, Aerohive wisely decided to revamp their cloud management interface to make it cleaner and more intuitive. And what they came up with is HiveManager NG. Originally, NG lacked the feature-density that Classic had, so adoption of it was fairly slow. Furthermore, Aerohive didn’t make it easy to migrate from Classic to NG. However, today HiveManager NG, now called Select, definitely has feature parity to Classic.

Aerohive’s private pre-shared key (PPSK) is a strong feature. This is available in both their Classic and Select platforms. It’s a very secure, simple-to-use two-factor authentication method. They also have an iOS app so organizations can set up a kiosk with an iPad for users to self-register and receive their guest credentials.

Aerohive’s expiration policy is different than Meraki’s. This is only applicable to their Select platform, of course, since the Connect platform is free. If your Select platform expires, your equipment will continue to run. However, you lose the ability to actually manage the product until you renew.

Fortinet

With models like the FAP-221E and FAP-231F, Fortinet has a FortiAP access point for just about any environment or price point. And they are built with lock-down security first and foremost. Like everything Fortinet does. FortiAPs come with AV, Malware, App monitoring, and very good traffic monitoring.

FortiCloud allows you to monitor your AP network easily and quickly. It gives you alerts, updates and status on a single pane of glass. Plus, it’s easy to install. FortiCloud offers additional security features like Sandboxing for zero day threat protection, and an Indicators of Compromise service. The Sandboxing feature leverages FortiGuard to to analyze suspicious payloads. This utilizes Big Data analytics to identify threats already present in client devices.

Adding additional access points, as well as switches or firewalls is quite easy as well. FortiCloud features a simple interface to manage your FortiGates and APs across multiple sites with complete data isolation and controlled access rights for users.

Device settings, like IP addresses or SSIDs, can be centrally configured for individual devices. Or, they can be pushed to multiple devices. Configuration backups are kept in FortiCloud to make replacement or recovery easy. Firmware updates can also be centrally managed and controlled, ensuring uniform policy enforcement.

Of course, all cloud management platforms have strengths and weaknesses. But Corporate Armor is glad to help you take a look at the different offerings and determining what feature-set coincides best suits your needs. So just email us, or call 877-449-0458. Thanks for reading!

Advantages of Cloud Management:

Bring all hardware and software together in a single interface
Complete visibility and manageability between remote devices
Easy remote troubleshooting
Device settings can be centrally configured