As the real-estate types like to say, it’s all about location, location, location. I’ve long been interested in highly-accurate location capabilities, regardless of what form they take. I have also been following the fledgling field of indoor, WLAN-based location services for a couple of years now. Under the heading of “truth is stranger than fiction”, I got to see Aruba Networks present the same location magic (Meridian) that Cisco did at an earlier Field Day.
Last year, Cisco was partnering with Meridian.this year, Aruba owns Meridian. Things can change quick around here.
If you’re not familiar with Meridian, take a minute to get oriented here. I’ll wait.
Our Wireless Field Day 6 visit started with the downloading of Aruba’s Campus App and Chief Airhead Sean Rynearson getting us started on a self-guided map-routing session to rooms full of goodies for us. It was a nice way to start the visit, and a good real-world way of showing off the capabilities of Meridian. There are a few other providers out there trying to do the same thing (Wifarer, Google Maps, etc), but in my research to date, Meridian was the best fit for my own Cisco Mobility Services Engines. As the magic that took MSE feeds and turned it into almost real-time interactive mapping, I was fairly deep into discussions with Meridian and Cisco about licensing costs (which were confusing as hell from the Cisco side at the time) when news broke that Aruba had bought Meridian.
Deju vu moment: I also remember years ago, when Aruba purchased AirWave even as I was hoping that Cisco would, that I thought “good for you, Aruba”. And it looks like the Meridian purchase is very good indeed for Aruba.
During the WFD6 visit, Aruba also over-viewed their ALE (Analytics and Location Engine) in a great discussion facilitated by Ozer Dondurmacioglu, Kiyo Kubo, Manju Mahishi , and Dhawal Tyagi. We talked about all sorts of details that go into location services- what it feels like to different client devices, how network design impacts it, what sort of platform horsepower makes it tick, concerns over licensing, etc. It was also agreed that the industry is just starting to scratch the surface of indoor location services.
For me, the elephant in the room at Aruba was one that followed us from session to session; that is the fact that “wireless” has gone well beyond doing a site survey and hanging APs for people to connect to. Wireless Networking is now about services, and monitization and monitization via services. It’s about using the WLAN as base for doing all kinds of new and productivity or profit-enhancing things that require more boxes (real or virtual), skillsets that far exceed those of yesterday’s wireless pro, and a greater “world view” of the environment you’re trying to make all this great, crazy stuff work in. Even if you reduce your burden by keeping more of the environment in the cloud, that doesn’t lessen the need to truly understand operational landscapes that are getting ever more complex. None of this is bad, it’s just a natural evolution that’s worth calling out into the light of day.
We also got a peek at some slick new wireless gear coming out in the near future, and that’s always nice.
I can tell you this- if you get a chance to spend some time at Aruba HQ, don’t hesitate to visit. It’s a beautiful facility, sure- but it also doesn’t take long in the company of Aruba’s techies to understand why they are doing so well in the WLAN market.