Enterasys has partnered with national technology solutions provider PCM (PCMI) on a cloud-based Wi-Fi solution that, when fully baked, will enable channel partners to resell the offering and build or bolster their cloud services business.

The PCM Cloud Wireless Service utilizes Enterasys’ OneFabric network management system and IdentiFi Wi-Fi access points (APs), and is based on an opex model that includes AP hardware, software capabilities, implementation and management for a monthly fee.

“We looked at cloud wireless a few different ways, and discovered a lot of models have a hosted wireless service where the partners sell the service but the recurring revenue goes to the manufacturer,” said Charlie Van Pelt, director of North American Channels at Enterasys. “We decided to do more of a service provider model where the partner gets the recurring revenue.”

Under this model, PCM—which has its feet planted firmly both in the hardware/software realm (you may know the company as PC Mall) and the managed services/cloud services space—will be able to offer the entire solution soup-to-nuts without the customer having to lay out extra cash for hardware.

“What we are bringing to market is unique,” said Bob Noel, director of Global Channel and Field Marketing at Enterasys. “Others have offered cloud wireless but want to make it clear this is not a ‘me too’ solution—our combines the hosted and managed service model under one solution. The customer doesn’t have to spend capital on buying APs, and it allows the end user to not have to have a dedicated resource to support the service. PCM is doing the entire lifecycle of the service under the opex model.”

Patrick Lohmeyer, associate vice president of Services Development at PCM, noted that—much like other managed services—the PCM Cloud Wireless Service is a little like leasing a car, “but you also get all the services that come with it.”

“We’ve been providing managed and cloud services for a number of years and that managed services offering is very mature. We’re applying that same approach for this offering,” he said. “It’s one price per month per access point, and customers get hardware, maintenance, centralized management, event management, patch management [and] incident management ... it’s a powerful, complete process that helps augment even a small IT staff that a customer may or may not have.”

The offering is brand, spanking new, which means the companies are still trying to work out how Enterasys channel partners will be able to capitalize on the new service.

“We’re launching through PCM and then hopefully in the next few months we will have an option to resell these services,” Van Pelt said.

“There are a lot of combinations we are exploring and really setting up service to be flexible. But at core it is an opex model,” Lohmeyer added, noting the company is looking at having something available hopefully by year-end.

Cloud wireless is becoming a hot commodity among the Wi-Fi ranks, as it just makes sense to have some wireless management ability in the ether. Aruba Networks, for one, very recently announced its wireless cloud service. Whether Enterasys can make a name for itself in the space, however, will depend on how quickly it can bring this service to its larger channel base.