Some days it feels like there’s nothing new under the wireless sun. But every now and then a unique offering wiggles its way onto your radar, and if you’re the curious type you just have to dig a little bit beyond what meets the eye. Recently a Wi-Fi colleague asked me if I’d heard of a startup called WiTuners, which is the impetus for this blog. It turns out, I had not heard of WiTuners. But, being both a crack analyst and master sleuth, I set out to find out more about this intriguing company with the peppy website.
My first question about WiTuners was “are they still in business?” or are they a ghost ship like Nira Wireless seems to have become- having a flashy website and interesting premise but no update announcement in like a bazillion years. I looked at the WiTuners Twitter account and saw little to no activity over the past year and figured that this company must be a mis-fire. But then I put my powers of interrogation to work and asked them via a webform “hey, are you guys still in business?” The reply came quickly and decisively, and my inquiry was met with an inquiry- “Sure we are. Who the hell are you, and why do you ask?” (or something to that effect). And that’s how I came to know Luke Qian, President and CEO of WiTuners (and long time wireless industry veteran). We exchanged a few emails, and eventually connected via telephone so I could learn a bit more about this company that promises to help you optimize the performance of your pricey WLAN. (Luke conceded they’d gotten inattentive to their Twitter thing, and the account has since gotten much more active.)
Please note: I have yet to try WiTuners, and this blog is in no way an endorsement of the capabilities offered by the company. But WiTuners is an interesting story, and I salute anyone who attempts to bring a new performance angle to our important WLAN environments (well, except for these guys.)
So WHAT IS WiTuners about? I can’t say that I yet fully understand the model, but I do grasp large parts of it. When you’re done reading this blog, pop over to this WiTuners page to hear it in their own words. Here’s a stab at it:
- There are no hardware components, only software
- Survey and planning utilities are available
- There is a cloud approach to much of what WiTuners does
- It’s aimed at both MSPs and enterprises
- WiTuners doesn’t replace RRM and such, it complements it
- Optimization can be done on demand or automagically with continuous monitoring
- You can see proposed optimizations before invoking them after doing a quick audit
- The framework does not replace NMS, though it does promise certain life-cycle and system monitoring capabilities
- SNMP figures largely into what goes on here, leveraging standard MIBs to “significantly reduce … costs of WLAN deployment and maintenance while simultaneously…[providing] better WLAN performance.”
- Is compatible with Cisco, Aruba, Extreme, Ruckus, Moto/Zebra, Juniper, and other modern WLAN systems
- Optimizations can be proven by reported decreases in channel utilization or by the survey tool with boots on the ground
- WiTuners aggressively keeps up with code/MIB updates from the vendors they support
This list is far from an eloquent portrayal of the WiTuners model, I realize. I’m providing it more to spark your curiosity in case you’d like to learn more than to act like an expert on the offerings as I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole thing. WiTuners is a well-funded startup, and Luke is a good ambassador for the company if you get a chance to talk with him (it turns out that Luke and I know some of the same people in the WLAN industry). WiTuners expects to become more visible to target customers later this year.
Whether there is room and demand for the WiTuners optimization services remains to be seen, but anything that promises to make busy WLANs perform better is at least worth hearing out.
For me, I’d have to see WiTuners in action before I could pass judgement. But I would be curious to hear what you think about the notion of WiFi system optimization as a service offering. Please leave a comment, and thanks for reading.