The evolution of networking: from on-premise to cloud

The evolution of networking: from on-premise to cloud

As with any technology, Wi-Fi is rapidly evolving – becoming easier to use, easier to manage, and boosting performance.

This is driven by a demand for uncompromising connectivity. Take a look at the state of the market 20 years ago. Far fewer smartphones, laptops and devices were fighting for connectivity – standalone access points had no trouble making sure there was enough Wi-Fi for everybody.

Today, there are five billion people and businesses connected to the internet. And consider how many devices each person uses. How many Wi-Fi enabled devices have you got in arm’s reach right now?

By the end of this year, there will be 20 billion devices connected to the internet. And with the average user checking their phone 85 times a day, the demand is sizeable.

It’s fair to say networking is evolving. In this blog post, I’ll take you through how.

The modern network

Today, the expectation is anytime, anywhere connectivity. There should always be Wi-Fi connectivity keeping users from falling back on their data plans for fast internet access.

Your network needs to deliver the bandwidth to access what you want, when you want it – with minimal loading or buffering times. You need to keep data safe and secure. And you need a consistent level of service.

This means you need a system that meets your requirements – supporting you as you deliver this service to your customers or end users. All installed and managed by you, and aligned with your available resources.

How did we get here?

Once upon a time, standalone access points, configured and managed one at a time, were enough for network users.

When Wi-Fi was needed only in specific spaces – boardrooms, for example – the demand was far smaller, and delivering connectivity to these users was much simpler.

As demand increased, Wi-Fi controllers stepped in to manage all access points in a network, and enable larger, more stable networks that extended further across a space. Wi-Fi controllers flourished in large enterprise environments, but for smaller sites, they weren’t financially viable – and required a higher skillset to operate than your traditional AP.

That’s why, today, we prefer to manage networks via the cloud. Using a virtual controller, and APs connected to the internet, resellers of all sizes can manage more networks for their customers.

With Nebula, Zyxel’s cloud network management solution, you can cross multiple approaches – from a single access point to a complex multi-site network.

What’s next for your business

So which approach is best? Typically, standalone is appropriate only for very small-scale network environments. For anything more than four access points, we’d always recommend a managed network.

But which one? Controller or cloud managed? There’s no quick answer, but the option appropriate for your business should be immediately clear when you consider how many networks you’ll be managing, the size of the networks, and the locations.

Whatever’s right for your network, all three infrastructure designs are supported by Zyxel’s broad product portfolio. Ultimately, the options are broad, and the choice is yours.

To find out more about Zyxel’s network solutions, and how to make the right choice for your network, visit