The boom in the adoption and reliance on digital solutions, connected devices, and Internet of Things (IoT) networks has been crucial to the growth of the demand for reliable and high-quality Wi-Fi solutions. Enterprises today require flexible, scalable, high-performing, and cost-effective Wi-Fi networks to support their applications, which continue to advance technologically to ensure they stay innovative and relevant.
Enterprise Wi-Fi networks deliver benefits such as faster time to market, better customer experience, and greater operational efficiency to enterprises, which ultimately contribute to the digital transformation initiatives of the enterprise.
Here are five of the top enterprise Wi-Fi solutions.
- Cisco/Meraki: Best overall
- Aruba WLAN: Best for cloud-based analytics and support for hybrid work, digital transformation, and IoT
- Extreme Wireless: Best for a variety of next-generation cloud-managed Wi-Fi APs
- Fortinet Secure Wireless LAN: Best for security
- Cambium Enterprise Wi-Fi and Switching: Best for a cloud-first wireless solution with wire-like performance
Cisco: Best overall
Cisco, a global market leader in the computer networking market, is also a market leader in the enterprise Wi-Fi market through its Enterprise Wireless solution and the Meraki platform. The company provides an architecture that is secure and scalable while being easy to deploy and manage to enable network administrators the flexibility they require to accommodate usage for enterprises of all sizes.
- Access points: Cisco Wireless offers various types of access points, including indoor, outdoor, and industrial, cloud-managed, and controller-less access points.
- Wireless controllers: Intelligent, secure, and resilient Wi-Fi 6/6E-compliant wireless controllers boost the management capabilities of customers.
- Network management: Cisco improves wireless network management for its users through the Cisco DNA Center and the Cisco Meraki platform.
- Adaptive security: Meraki’s self-configuring and self-maintaining features provide adaptive security to enable proactive protection, inspection, and adaptation in their customers’ networks.
- Cisco Catalyst 9100 Series Access Points support the Wi-Fi 6 standard. These custom-built APs are designed for high-density environments and use features like Cisco CleanAir to protect airwaves from interference and wireless attacks.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) provide better efficiency, increased performance, and greater cost savings. Cisco also enables a single touchpoint that abstracts network complexity through automation and analytics.
- Cisco DNA Assurance provides a transparent view of all the devices in a network. This allows your IT team to easily resolve issues.
- The Cisco and Apple partnership enhances the user experience of those using Apple devices, through features like rich client insights and Fast Lane.
- The Cisco Wireless LAN dashboards could be improved to make them more user-friendly.
- Users report that Cisco solutions not only have a steep learning curve but are also more costly than most alternatives.
Contact Cisco for accurate and current pricing information on Cisco wireless products.
Aruba WLAN: Best for cloud-based analytics and support for hybrid work, digital transformation, and IoT
Aruba WLAN is a high-performance, secure enterprise wireless Local Area Network (LAN) that features Wi-Fi 6 certification and previous Wi-Fi generation interoperability. The Wi-Fi solution offers secure and reliable Wi-Fi that has built-in intelligence. Aruba WLAN supports scalability, greater mobility, digital transformation, and IoT.
The Aruba WLAN portfolio consists of indoor and outdoor wireless APs, gateways and controllers, and location services. The AI-powered enterprise Wi-Fi software solution delivers improved capacity and performance and greater AI for IT Operations (AIOps) visibility across all devices and users.
- Zero-trust security model: Aruba uses a zero-trust security model to reduce risk. This involves dynamic segmentation and role-based policy enforcement firewalls.
- AI-powered network operations: Aruba AIOps implements machine learning to proactively direct issues, recommend solutions, and provide service assurance.
- Centralized management: The cloud-native, centralized management offered by Aruba provides IT teams with visibility across not only wireless but also wired and WAN architectures using a single pane of glass.
- Improved performance and capacity with greater AIOps visibility across users and devices.
- Interoperability with previous Wi-Fi generations.
- Support for Wi-Fi 6 provides better user and guest encryption.
- Improved scalability, reliability, and efficiency using Aruba Central and Aruba ESP.
- Built-in Zigbee-based IoT functionality.
- The initial setup is more complex than many of its alternatives.
- Configuration could be simplified to make it a more efficient process.
For up-to-date pricing information about Aruba WLAN, fill in the form provided on their website to contact their sales team.
Extreme Wireless: Best for a variety of next-generation cloud-managed Wi-Fi APs
Extreme Wireless is a cloud-driven, enterprise Wi-Fi solution that provides support for Wi-Fi 6 standards and is powered by AI and ML to deliver upgraded user experiences with effortless networking. Their enterprise offering comprises a scalable range of solutions for diverse enterprise networks and high-performance WLAN appliances that deliver integrated management, security, and dynamic performance optimization.
- ExtremeCloud IQ: Through ExtremeCloud IQ, enterprises can leverage unified, automated, and secure network management to streamline every aspect of their networks.
- Latest Wi-Fi technologies: Extreme delivers high-speed efficiency using the latest Wi-Fi technologies such as 6 GHz, OFDMA, MU-MIMO, and more to provide uncompromising performance to even the most demanding environments.
- Context-based optimization: Extreme optimizes high-capacity networks through the identification of associated users, devices, and applications and the implementation of contextualized network policies to prioritize, restrict, or limit performance at various levels.
- Secure access: With a range of authentication options and granular network policies, enterprises can safeguard corporate, BYOD, guest, and IoT devices.
- Optimization and protection of enterprise networks using industry-leading network management.
- The self-driving Wi-Fi solution is powered by AI and ML to continually adapt and adjust performance based on millions of actionable insights.
- Using Wi-Fi 6E technology for both indoor and outdoor use cases, using a software-selectable OS to avoid lock-in and offering redeployment options for hardware in new use cases provide enterprises with the agility they require.
- Extreme delivers reduced risk and simpler operations for IT teams.
- A modern digital experience leveraging technologies such as Explainable Machine Learning.
- Extreme Wireless support has room for improvement.
- Extreme’s approach to licensing can be complex for users.
Contact one of Extreme’s sales experts to discuss the product and pricing.
Fortinet Secure Wireless LAN: Best for security
Fortinet Secure Wireless LAN leverages security-driven networking to provide secure Wi-Fi access. FortiAPs are Fortinet Security Fabric enabled and provide automated protection, integrated threat intelligence, and broad visibility. By leveraging Fortinet’s security-driven networking solution, you can secure the LAN Edge without the need for complex and costly licensing schemes. Fortinet offers a safe wireless LAN within a flexible architecture.
- Security fabric integration: Security-driven networking to the edge of the network is enabled by integration with Fortinet’s Security Fabric.
- Automated response to compromised devices: Fortinet Secure Wireless LAN offers an automated response to compromised devices to do away with human interaction and strengthen network security at the access layer.
- Zero-touch deployment: The solution enables fast and easy deployment without requiring on-site tech support.
- Plug-and-go solution to simplify deployment and capacity expansion.
- Unified management eases operations and ensures consistent policy enforcement and compliance.
- Wireless presence analytics features are included.
- Scalability ranging from 1 to 10,000 APs.
- May come off as complex to configure due to a fairly steep learning curve.
- FortiAP may be incompatible with non-Fortinet products and some third-party devices.
Even though a free product demo is available, Fortinet invites prospective customers to contact their sales team for pricing information.
Cambium Enterprise Wi-Fi and Switching: Best for a cloud-first wireless solution with wire-like performance
Cambium offers enterprise Wi-Fi and switching solutions that deliver a balance of security, performance, and ease of operations. Its high-performance Wi-Fi satisfies the needs of even the most demanding enterprises. Cambium’s Wi-Fi management solutions cut across private, public, and on-premises options optimized for zero-touch provisioning.
- Network management and services: Cambium has a simple yet comprehensive platform and tools for the planning, deployment, and management of wireless networks.
- Enterprise Wi-Fi access points: The company provides Wi-Fi access points and service provider routers suitable for organizations of all sizes. Its integrated controller eases the deployment and architecture of Wi-Fi networks.
- Wi-Fi Designer: Users have access to a free online tool to design their Cambium Wi-Fi networks in their unique environments.
- Lower total cost of ownership resulting from a high-density architecture.
- Simplifies the deployment of large networks without a large IT workforce.
- Zero-touch provisioning, deployment, and maintenance.
- Users can manage their entire Wi-Fi networks from a single pane of glass.
- Some users report that the 2.4GHz Wireless WAN is less stable than the 5GHz band.
Since Cambium has not listed its pricing information publicly, you will have to contact Cambium to request a quote or a free demo.
Important features of enterprise Wi-Fi solutions
Though enterprise Wi-Fi companies may differ in their specific offerings, there are some features that should be prioritized across all options—though the exact degree of their importance will depend on your particular use case. These factors include security, mobility, ease of configuration and management, and scalability.
Enterprises today rightly place priority on securing their networks. Rising cyberattack incidents, which can be devastating to any organization, make security a crucial feature of any enterprise Wi-Fi solution. A good enterprise Wi-Fi solution should make sure it offers the correct measures to secure corporate networks. It should offer encryption and authentication controls and be capable of addressing the ever-increasing security concerns of an enterprise network.
Enterprise Wi-Fi solutions should account for the mobility of devices across an organization to make sure that as devices move from one access point to another, the quality of the Wi-Fi signal does not dip. Handover from access point to access point should be smooth, particularly with increasingly popular use cases such as video and VoIP.
Mobility support should also account for not only indoor but also outdoor coverage options depending on the current and anticipated needs of an organization.
Configuration and management
Many enterprise WLAN solutions offer either a controller, a switch, or a manager to save enterprise customers from manually configuring multiple access points and the errors that can result. Wi-Fi solutions for the enterprise should ease configuration and management responsibilities for their users. These solutions can also offer device management features to regulate access to the organization’s applications and programs.
Connectivity solutions for the enterprise should take into consideration that enterprises may need to offer Wi-Fi connectivity to their guests. These solutions should therefore be characterized by the ability to separate employee traffic from guest traffic to bypass the inconvenience of managing a guest network.
Enterprise Wi-Fi solutions should be able to cater to the needs of growing enterprises. Any Wi-Fi solution you’re considering should allow for expansion in terms of coverage and capacity on demand without requiring enterprises to create brand new networks or fully revamp their existing networks.
How to choose the right enterprise Wi-Fi solution for your business
Once you know your basic needs and feature requirements, you can consider the primary factors in choosing which enterprise Wi-Fi solution is going to be best for your business. You’ll need to weigh your company’s size and security and compliance demands against your available budget.
The best way to narrow down between enterprise Wi-Fi solutions is to ensure that the prospective solutions are within your budget. You should evaluate and consider the solutions that provide the best value for your money and your use case.
Make sure that for the cost presented, the features meet your needs and that the solution has a roadmap that is aligned with your vision so that you are not just subscribing to a solution but investing in the solution. This also helps to make sure that the solution you choose is future-proof against changes in your company or the available technology.
The size of your enterprise and its networks should also determine the kind of provider you select. Taking into consideration the capacity and coverage needs of your enterprise should help you align with a provider that can meet these needs. Consider whether the solution should be able to handle the network load size of your enterprise, your clients, or both.
Additionally, you should anticipate the changes to your networks, whether growth or shrinkage, and choose a solution that is flexible enough to align with your varying needs and demands.
Security and compliance
If your use case is covered by data privacy laws and regulations such as HIPAA, compliance with their requirements is paramount. These legislations provide guidelines for security features such as authentication, intrusion prevention, encryption, and more. Adhering to the guidelines relevant to your use case will enable you to pinpoint an enterprise Wi-Fi solution that’s aligned with these requirements to ensure that your networks are secure and compliant.
Commitment to certification
Another factor to consider when choosing an enterprise Wi-Fi solution is how committed the vendor is to certification by industry standards, in this case, the Wi-Fi Alliance, to ensure that the solution has satisfied industry-agreed standards for security, interoperability, and a variety of application-specific protocols.
Who needs an enterprise Wi-Fi solution?
Today, more organizations need to invest in an enterprise Wi-Fi solution than don’t. There are many reasons it might be the right choice, but here are some of the primary considerations.
You need an enterprise Wi-Fi solution if:
- Your enterprise is characterized by high-density Wi-Fi usage and you require multiple access points.
- You are facing growing demand and require a scalable wireless connectivity solution.
- There’s a need for equipment to run around the clock to support your enterprise operations.
- You need the ability to control and manage your networks from a single pane of glass.
- You are in search of Wi-Fi solutions that are future-proofed for new technologies to support your business growth.
Bottom Line: Choosing an enterprise Wi-Fi solution
As enterprise Wi-Fi solutions are key supporters of digital transformation initiatives today, getting the right solution can fuel rapid growth for your enterprise. In fact, such an important decision is less about acquiring a solution than about acquiring a connectivity partner to help you achieve your business goals. Always remember to do your research and sign up for trials and demos where available to gain hands-on experience.
Make sure your enterprise Wi-Fi network is secured against the latest cyberattacks by trusting one of the best enterprise network security companies.