Netgear announced Business Central, a secure, cloud-based IT service platform designed to provide small- to midsize- businesses (SMBs) with a way to establish, provision and manage IT networking services and network devices.
The first service module to debut under the Business Central umbrella is the Wireless Manager, which enables companies as well as value-added resellers (VARs) and other systems integrators (SIs) to centrally and securely manage a wireless network across multiple borders, cities, buildings and floors, through the cloud.
With Wireless Manager, all management is performed remotely through a standard Web browser. Because the management function is hosted on the Web, operational administrative tasks that are relevant to traditional controller architectures are eliminated. The purchase, update, support, renewal, and maintenance of separate hardware are not required.
Through the platform, IT departments can manage wireless service set identifiers (SSIDs); configure wireless security settings; control free or fee-paying guest and private WiFi access on the network, and run bandwidth usage reports.
While the company noted final pricing for end customers may vary depending on the reseller and bundled offerings, the price for managing one access point for 12 months is $99. The highest offering listed is 50 access points for 36 months, a plan which costs $11,138.
"The cloud-managed solutions that we see on the market are focused on the enterprise customer," Thomas Cheng, senior product line manager for Netgear, told eWEEK. "We believe that small and midsized organizations with limited IT resources should also have cloud-based SAAS solutions available to them that are optimized for their budget and staffing. Like all of our business-focused products, Business Central is focused on being reliable, affordable and easy to use."
Cheng said in a Netgear survey of more than 200 SMB IT managers, 76 percent of managers identified lack of IT staff and lack of sufficient capital as key limitations in keeping up IT networks effectively.
"From the technical side, SMB IT managers face the challenges of keeping the device configuration and firmware up to date, managing complexity of deployments remotely, keeping the cost down while having the ability to troubleshoot and monitor devices from a single dashboard," he explained. "Finally, we also heard from our customers that eight out 10 agree that using the cloud for wireless management is important for increased reliability, improved delivery of IT services and enabling real time configuration changes."