"Controllerless" Doesn't Mean Out of Control

Posted by Kate Clavet, Content Marketing Specialist on Nov 27, 2017
Kate Clavet, Content Marketing Specialist
En español

If you’re new to WiFi or used to deploying access points for large enterprises, the word “controller-less” might be confusing. Traditionally to manage access points across a business, a separate piece of hardware referred to as a “controller” would be installed along with the access points and router. This controller typically would live in the server room and monitor, analyze, and update the access points across the deployment. In some cases the hardware controller would provide firewall features for added protection as well. At the time, when wireless technology was still relatively new this was a convenient way to manage all access points in a streamlined manner.

Wireless has come a long way since hardware controllers were deemed necessary for access point management. Now, this clunky, expensive equipment is no longer convenient as it once was. Using a physical controller requires space to install it, time to configure it, and extra room in the budget to purchase it. Adding a controller can cost anywhere from $300-800 USD depending on the deployment or brand. Other drawbacks to physical controllers include limitations on speed and reliability. For example, if the hardware controller fails the APs paired to the controller will also go down, leaving you without internet access. Hardware controllers can also introduce a bottleneck in the network between the wireless APs and the core network slowing down connection speeds and frustrating internet users.

Thankfully, as chip technology advanced bulky hardware controllers were no longer required and the ability to control an access point was able to be embedded within the AP itself. This technology is referred to by the industry as controllerless-simply meaning that a hardware controller is not required. Other industry terms typically used to describe controller-less include: embedded controller, virtual controller, or built-in controller.


Image for Controllerless Blog.png

Although this embedded controller technology is not new, many comparable brands to Grandstream’s GWN series still charge extra for the software used to control the access points. So while the access point may be controllerless, they will charge added fees for access to the software to control your access points. Grandstream APs can be managed directly from the Web UI of the master AP for no extra cost. Additionally, when there’s no hardware controller involved, if the Master AP goes down the network still operates-making it a more reliable solution for your office, hotel, or retail location.

Our GWN series of networking access points and router include options for enterprises, small to medium businesses, and outdoor long-range deployments. We also utilize MIMO antenna technology to ensure a fast, reliable connection. To learn more about our wireless product line and what we have to offer in terms of security, reliability, and scabalibility join us for a webinar on December 5, sign up here.

Topics: GWN, Access Points, 802.11ac, MIMO, Controllerless