From zero to go in just a few clicks. That is the promise of the LANCOM Management Cloud. And this is how to deliver on it.
The first good piece of news: All LANCOM network components, routers, firewalls, WLAN access points, and switches manufactured since 2015 – and in some cases even long before that – are cloud-compatible. An offering as broad as this is unique worldwide.
The second: Network administrators won’t be seeing much of the robust black or silver steel housings, the solid network ports, or the softly glowing LEDs. The touch of cool steel is passé. Tactile types may regret this, but it is actually very good news. Because the innovative principle that rules the entire product range is “zero-touch”. That is not so much a requirement as a consequence of the way they work, namely to do exactly what the network configuration dictates, without anyone laying a hand on the device.
Inverting the way of working, away from the configuration of each individual device in favor of network configuration via the cloud, means nothing less for companies than the dawn of a new era in the IT landscape.
A new dimension in terms of versatility, security and reliability, and a drastic reduction in workload. This almost instant freeing-up of resources can act as a booster to the digitalization projects at any company. In a nutshell: The LANCOM Management Cloud (LMC) means there is no crack admin on site. At the very least, it saves a large part of the time-consuming and unproductive work that IT professionals have to face in classic, manual network management.
In terms of roles and responsibilities, the IT department has a system administrator and an IT manager, much like professional football teams have a coach and a sporting director. And LANCOM's cloud-based network management replaces the coach. Or: The coach can concentrate on strategically important tasks such as setting objectives in consultation with the management board and deal with strategies including squad planning, budgeting, and managerial tasks. The on-site training, i.e. teaching the components what they need to do in terms of the network strategy, is handled by the cloud.
And this is what cloud control à la LANCOM looks like in concrete terms: All of the configuration protocols (“data plane”), from IKEv2-IPsec, VLAN, 802.1X or IPv6, SSH, DPS, ARF, DNS, IGMP, DHCP, HTTP, RIPv2, BGPv4, OSPFv2 are kept where they belong, namely in the engine room.
The mixture of classic user interfaces such as WEBconfig, LANconfig, LANmonitor, PuTTy, SYSLOG, or the command line are sidelined and replaced by a single tool: the LANCOM Management Cloud. It assists network managers with extensive, fully automatic functions such as Smart Config and Zero-touch Deployment. Even then, assistance does not mean taking things out of your hands completely; Dives into the depths of the system are also possible via the LMC dashboard: Adapting the transmission power of a special hotspot to the on-site conditions? Done with 4 clicks and one entry. Reversing every bit in a switch from the CLI? Direct access to individual devices is still an option.
However, the LANCOM cloud control shows its real strengths when it does what is asked of it in 95 percent of all cases, namely to ensure that the components reliably do what the network strategy says.
There are good reasons for segmenting a company's IT into networks. The basis for the design of a network are the logical structures of the company.
The employee in Sales has no need to access the server with the personnel files. For marketing employees, access to social media services is essential to the job; for a development engineer it may well be a distraction, one that is easily eliminated with the appropriate network configuration. The Wi-Fi hotspot for visitors does not need maximum bandwidth under all conditions, but the helpdesk's IP telephone system at least needs a guaranteed minimum throughput for trouble-free communication on every line. The management board needs a completely different level of access authorization than, for example, the accounting department. And different sites or branches cast out their own networks, anyway.
The technology of virtual networking (VLAN) has freed the potential for network design from the chains of copper cabling and laid the foundation for flexible network strategies: No longer does the LAN cable determine network membership, but a digital numbering system that provides each data packet with an ID to determine which network it belongs to, and which it does not. All of the data travels through a single physical network, and yet it remains clearly separated – similar to the virtual/logical drives on a hard disk.
The LANCOM Management Cloud takes advantage of this and combines maximum versatility with easy handling. After logging into the cloud, users can set up a fully functional network in three steps from the dashboard – in exactly the reverse order of the classic network structure: Networks -> Locations -> Devices instead of Devices -> Locations -> Networks. So instead of teaching every network component where it is and which network it belongs to, we put the “cart before the horse”, so to speak, only that in the cloud-based world it is less pony and more Porsche: more reliable, more secure, and much faster.
A conventional network with, say, 100 clients and typically five network hardware components, a total of around 100 settings are necessary to set up the resulting network. And this is how it works with the cloud-based world of LANCOM:
Set basic specifications
An input dialog appears, which requests some basic information:
- The freely definable name of the network, such as “Sales”. If desired, a further description of the network, such as “Access to application A, B, but not C”.
- The IP address range, from which subnets are assigned to the individual sites.
- Then you have to set the size of the subnets for the networks at each site.
- With the next click, this network is activated for distribution to the different sites via VPN.
- By activating a VLAN ID, you enforce the clear virtual separation of the networks at the sites.
- You then assign a color to the network, which simplifies the subsequent setup.
Select path to the Internet
Finally, a click informs the network of the path it has to take to the Internet:
- directly, protected by a router or firewall,
- via the “headquarters”, which requires less hardware but can lead to high levels of data traffic and a loss of speed,
- or via a security service provider such as Zscaler.
Set port assignment
Even before a single switch has taken up its work, the port assignments can be set now by using the templates available for each individual LANCOM switch model (8, 10, 26 port, etc.). This works like sharing Smarties: The colored “pills” are assigned to the relevant port symbol by dragging and dropping the colors assigned in the first step of the configuration.
Beyond these basic settings, networks can be more deeply configured for individual requirements—such as which Internet content or services are permitted and further security settings.
Assign networks to the associated locations
All it takes then to assign a networks to a site is a single click. Sheer genius: Once set up, networks can be used as “master networks” and rolled out to sites with a single click.
When setting up Wi-Fi networks and hotspots, it is worthwhile uploading the building floorplans at the same time. This helps with the planning of the optimal number and locations of the access points.
Determine the number and type of devices required
How many client PCs need to communicate with which servers? This pretty well decides the number and type of switches required. Depending on the requirements of the Wi-Fi networks or hotspots, a suitable number of Wi-Fi access points need to be lined up, while a router or firewall provides the connection to the Internet.
There are several options for integrating the devices into the LMC, all of which have one thing in common: They are quick and easy.
Add new devices via serial number and cloud PIN
An example: It is easy to integrate new components into the network using the “Add new device” tab, the serial number, and the cloud PIN. As soon as the on-site device is connected to the network and contacts the cloud, it is identified by the system and immediately receives the configuration intended for it. It is then monitored around the clock.
In the same way, an import list allows a whole bunch of devices to be paired to the cloud, or even on-site by scanning the QR code on the device via the smartphone camera.
Want to get started right away? Then take a look at our tutorials or use our info papers, white papers, and tech papers for more in-depth information:
You're already itching to get going, but you want another test run to confirm beforehand?
No problem. Simply register for the test system of the LANCOM Management Cloud and get your own impression!