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Setup

In keeping with its target customer, setup is very easy and adequately described by the printed Quick Install Guide. Each AP comes with a yellow label on its bottom that contains a Unit Identification Code (UIC), which has to be entered on the CloudCommand website before the AP is connected and powered up (Figure 2).

Registering an AP

Figure 2: Registering an AP

After you enter the AP UICs and complete the registration and setup process, you attach the DAP-2555's three dual-band antennas and plug it in either via its DC wall-wart or to a 802.3af PoE-enabled switch. Of course, the switch must provide access to the Internet!

The Gallery below steps you through the setup process, which is easy enough and sets up SSIDs for your main and Guest networks.

Image Gallery

If all goes well, you'll see your access points and network when you log into the web console at http://dlink.cloudcommand.com.

In Use

Figure 3 shows the default Dashboard view that shows an overview of network status. The left column remains constant, providing access to Alerts, adding new Access Points, other management functions and a Support section.

Integrated help is accessed by clicking on the ? icons in the various panels and via the FAQ link in the Support section. PowerCloud is also working on an online CloudCommand Knowledgebase that is supposed to come online next month (April 2011). But the look I got at it told me PowerCloud has some work to do; most of the information there looked like it came from the online FAQ.

CloudCommand Dashboard showing a two AP network

Figure 3: CloudCommand Dashboard showing a two AP network

Figure 3 shows two access points that D-Link provided, up and running. The default Dashboard view actually shows device traffic for the last hour. But I changed it to Last Week for the screenshot, because the network hasn't been in constant use. The furthest back you can go in either this or the Reports tab is one week.

This top level view provides a percentage view of total network traffic by either device (client) or access point. I had to click on the pie chart slices to pop up the data shown in the boxes overlaid on the pies. You can't drill down into traffic data from here. For that, you need to go to the Reports tab, which I'll get to in a bit.

To test D-Link's claim of easy multi-site installation, one of the APs was installed at my home office and the other at my colleague Matt Smollinger's office. Matt and I are on two different ISPs in two different states and have different LAN network IP structures as you can see in the Network Manager tab (Figure 4). But all that was completely transparent and there was no router port forwarding or futzing with dynamic DNS required.

The default Network Manager Standard view provides an overview of AP status and connected clients on the Primary (PN) and Guest Networks (GN). Note that you can opt in the Global Settings to let CloudCommand select channels and adjust AP transmit power automatically. I can see where the auto transmit power adjustment might be good to have. But without the ability to control the band that APs use, I think auto channel selection could be a risky choice unless you have all dual-band clients.

CloudCommand Network Manager Standard view

Figure 4: CloudCommand Network Manager Standard view

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