A lot can happen in a just a few months. Back in August of 2013, I sat in AirTight Networks‘ conference room for Wireless Field Day 5, and can’t say I was exactly impressed. I wasn’t particularly down on AirTight, but the WIPS-only-turned-WLAN-vendor didn’t seem all that exciting compared to more mature offerings. But as S.E. Hinton once wrote- that was then, this is now. Having gotten first-hand updates from AirTight at Wireless Field Day 6, I can say that this time I was impressed. In fact, AirTight nailed it.
The WFD6 presentation was excellent, but there are side-plots to the story worth mentioning. For one, the last time I saw Devin Akin in person, he was with Aerohive Networks. And the last time I saw Ryan Adzima, he was making the rounds with me at WFD5 as a delegate himself. Now both excellent gents, along with Ex-Hiver Andrew vonNagy, are with AirTight. (I pontificated about Akin and vonNagy jumping ship in a past blog.) It was a treat catching up with Adzima, and hearing Akin work his part of the presentation. Great people, I tell ya.
Also, AirTight were great sports about a rather brash Mylar theft that had taken place during WFD5, and rather than having the perpetrator thrown in Balloon Jail, they opted to have a little fun with the story. It really was a nice touch, and I thank them for putting up our silliness in this regard.
But back to the important stuff- here’s why AirTight is a company to watch, and a solution to consider:
AirTight now has an 802.11ac story, but as Devin Akin rightly pointed out- so what? Everybody does. Anymore, it’s the rest of the solution that counts as much as fast access points that rarely get used to their wireless capacities. The rest of AirTight’s solution has matured nicely (and rapidly), for stand-alone customers and for those interested in a managed services paradigm. AirTight reminds us that they are massively scalable, and are targeting multi-site, distributed environments with large numbers of aggregate access points as their feature set gets harder to distinguish from other cloud-managed WLAN players that have more years on them. Remember, with AirTight there are no controllers and no expensive, labor-heavy NMS servers to keep up.
WFD6 delegates also heard the message loud and clear- there isn’t much to AirTight’s licensing system. You buy AirTight, you get everything they have. There are no options, no add-ons, no BS. This is great for customers, but as other vendors who started out with the same message have found, if AirTight ever does start breaking out features and charging a la carte for them, they are likely to take a shellacking for it after the one-price-gets-you-everything paradigm becomes the expectation.
You have to remember that AirTight is two stories in one. Beyond WLAN access, the company arguably rules the industry from the WIPS perspective. AirTight security guru Rick Farina gave a convincing demo (and that he busted out a Pineapple for his live attacks made several of us giddy). Between Rick and VP Hemant Chaskar, real-time demonstrations of the vulnerability of Wi-Fi and accompanying narrative made the case for why it’s not enough to have just a dashboard full of alerts that you can’t do a lot with. You gotta have real wireless security that you can use, understand, and leverage to protect the WLAN. Again, the sessions were excellent and it’s obvious AirTight has invested in great technical talent.
The videos from AirTight’s WFD6 sessions are here, and are must-sees for anyone shopping for business Wi-Fi or wanting to learn more about AirTight. Have a watch, and expect AirTight to keep up the wow factor in the months to come.