Linksys enhances small business line by adding clustering to all wireless APs

Linksys continues a strategy it began by expanding captive portal from its flagship product to its entire wireless line, to beef up the entire portfolio at a time when small business demand for wireless is strong.

Linksys Clustering imageLinksys has beefed up its commercial portfolio with the announcement that it will now include clustering as a free addition throughout its entire line of wireless access points [AP] for small businesses. The enhanced capability is available as a free firmware download.

The Linksys brand and engineering assets was purchased by Belkin in 2013 from Cisco, where it had proven to be a poor fit as a small business-focused segment of an enterprise-focused giant. Belkin’s strategy since then has been to brand all its networking products with the Linksys brand, leaving the Belkin brand for the company’s cabling, KVM, docking and surge products.

The Linksys flagship product, the Linksys Pro Series Access Point, which was originally introduced in 2014, had clustering capability. A cluster reduces the costs and complexity of managing multiple wireless access points by providing a single point of administration for up to 16 APs. Administrators can view, deploy, configure and secure the wireless network as a single entity rather than the multiple separate wireless devices.

“It’s important not just to keep launching new products but updating what you have,” said Nandan Kalle, director of commercial networking at Linksys. “If you have more than one AP, clustering can help you, and the more APs you have, the more it helps you. Without clustering, the more APs you have, the more work it takes to change settings – because you have to change each AP individually.”

The decision to expand clustering availability beyond the flagship product to the entire Linksys line is part of a broader strategy to enhance the whole Linksys portfolio by bringing in higher-end features from the flagship brand. Several months ago, they expanded captive portal from the Linksys Pro Series Access Point across the entire wireless AP product line. Captive portal is a fully customizable landing page for businesses to welcome visitors and provide wireless access – within a branded environment that is separated from the core business network to maintain security for critical business assets.

“Since we entered the small business networking space a little over two years ago, small businesses have been increasingly transitioning to wireless,” Kalle said. “They may have had a bad experience in the past with 802.11b routers, but the technology has changed so much since then.”

Kalle said that increasing wireless demand made Linksys decide to broaden out the capability for small businesses to manage more routers more effectively.

“Small business needs more than one access point today,” he said. “Managing a group of APs can be time consuming and error prone. Controllers are popular, but way too cumbersome for a small business. We had very good feedback from the clustering feature on our flagship product, so we will be rolling it out to all our products by this spring. This makes the entire product line better.

While the Linksys Pro Series Access Point has other features that differentiate it from Linksys’ other APs, those are hardware features, so no more upgrades will be coming downstream from that source.

“Any future innovation will be a completely new feature,” Kalle said.

Kalle said they anticipate a great response from both partners and customers.

“We expect it will be vey popular,” he said. “As we are still very new in the SMB networking space, we have more new customers, and this is a great feature which makes their life easier.”

The clustering feature is available today on all Linksys Business Wireless-AC Dual Band Access Points. The firmware can be downloaded at:

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