|At a Glance|
|Product||D-Link DAP-2555 AirPremier N Dual Band, PoE Access Point powered by CloudCommand (Visit Website)|
|Summary||Cloud-managed single radio 2.4 / 5 GHz 802.11n access point for the small businesses.|
|Pros||• Easy setup
• Inexpensive compared to competition
• Works through NAT firewalls without port mapping
• Can still use as normal AP after one-year initial service bundle expires.
|Cons||• No WEP or WPA / TKIP support
• Can't control channel bandwidth mode
• Doesn't default to 20 MHz bandwidth in 2.4 GHz
• Reporting might be inadequate for larger networks
Anyone who has tried to install and manage a multi-AP wireless network using browser-managed gear understands the value of centrally-managed WLANs. Unfortunately, the pricing of systems from Cisco, Meraki, Ruckus, etc. puts managed Wi-Fi systems beyond the reach of most small businesses that could benefit the most from them.
Part of the high cost is in the access points themselves, although in some cases this more a reflection of what the market will bear rather than higher cost of material of the APs themselves. But another piece of the cost is the hardware controller(s) required to manage the APs.
What D-Link's partner PowerCloud Systems has done is develop a cloud-based system for managing network equipment. PowerCloud's technology, called CloudCommand, isn't limited to managing wireless networks. But it's PowerCloud's first application with D-Link as their first equipment customer.
Meraki also uses a cloud-based management system for its rather pricey access points that I reviewed last year. So I'll be making some comparisons to Meraki as we go along.
The first comparison is that D-Link is aiming at smaller networks than Meraki. D-Link's sales material describes the target customer as having 5 to 300 employees and / or 10 to 100 computers, where Meraki has a broader target of 50 to 5000 users.
D-Link and PowerCloud are focusing on penny-pinching businesses that have little or no IT support, but need multiple access points to get the job done. D-Link is also pitching to VARs, who might be responsible for multiple networks, some of which could be multi-site.
Because the system controller is in the cloud, CloudCommand is designed to handle networks with multiple APs in multiple locations, and even on multiple networks, as easily as those at a single site (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Multi-site networks are easy with CloudCommand
I've already covered the DAP-2555 hardware and wireless performance in the SmallNetBuilder review. So this review will focus strictly on the CloudCommand management features. Note that this review is based on the latest CloudCommand firmware v110rc010.