Tag Archives: AirTight

Mojo Networks Touts Lower Networking Costs, No More Vendor Lock-In at Mobility Field Day 2

Mojo Networks never fails to provide an interesting presentation. Recently, I sat in Mojo’s conference room in San Jose for the fourth time in roughly as many years to hear what the company is up to, and what their vision for the future is. At Mobility Field Day 2 (MFD2) I found myself fairly riveted to CEO Rick Wilmer’s introductory session. Why? Because if Wilmer’s vision of WHAT COULD BE takes root, it could disrupt the WLAN industry (and beyond) in some profound ways.

Wilmer pulled no punches describing what the typical margin is for wireless access points sold to customers- 70%. That’s 70% per AP, times hundreds of thousands of APs generating much revenue for WLAN vendors. Wilmer sees a world where the advantage shifts to the customer when it comes to wireless access points, but we’ll get to that.

Then there’s vendor lock-in… I remember back in the early days of LWAPP (the thin AP protocol), I had very naive and childish visions of a protocol so sparkly-wonderful-special that I might be able to mix components from Vendor A and Vendor B on the same damn network. I was all a-tingle, for about 30 seconds. Then I was slapped with the reality that what comes out of the antennas might be mostly-standards-based, but there is and would continue to be zero compatibility between vendors under the hood. Ah well, I was a silly wireless child then. But Wilmer’s vision touches that as well.

If you watch the MFD2 Wilmer session, you’ll not hear a CEO harping on buzzy claims of Machine Learning and crazy wonderful feature sets. (That all comes later in Mojo’s other presentations, and even then what could be a Bucket o’ Buzzwords is really just incorporated into what Mojo does, versus the vendor hanging a bunch of impressive terminology in the air and hoping that you salivate over it.) Wilmer paints a vision of commodity-priced access points- and eventually switches and security appliances- being cloud managed in an open source framework where innovation is driven by the greater technical community instead of any single vendor’s skewed view of the feature world.

Cloud management, software-defined everything, and open hardware standards CAN replace bloated, proprietary systems as shown in different examples made by Wilmer’s team in presentations that came after his. The technical stuff is interesting, and you should watch Mojo’s story from MFD2 all the way through. But just as significant is Mojo’s idea of a new business model that flies in the face of convention, and could capitalize on the success of the Open Compute Project (OCP) in building white box data center components as that model stretches into wireless access.

It’s a fairly bold premise, and I applaud Mojo for taking a truly unique and interesting path. Hopefully they find some big allies soon to help push this vision along.

See Mojo Networks at Mobility Field Day 2 here, and catch up on all things Mojo at the company’s blog.


Some of my past coverage of Mojo Networks (and Airtight)

AirTight Networks Rising

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.

Wireless Dispatches From The Retail Front: AirTight, Aruba, 1OAK Sequoia at NRF

This week’s National Retail Federation (NRF) Convention is a big deal to the wireless world. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s not news that the WLAN industry and the retail space are falling deeper into love with each other. From iBeacons to retail analytics to indoor mapping of store employees’ foot traffic to optimize workflows, WLAN and retail appear to be a match made in RF Heaven.

Check out the list of exhibitors at NRF, and you’ll find the WLAN industry well represented. A few particular announcements have come my way relating to wireless vendors in the retail space, and so I’ll quickly share here.

  • AirTight Networks and Earthlink Buddy Up for Wi-FI/WIPS in the multi-tenant retail space. AirTight will bring it’s cloud-based Infrastructure as a Service power to Earthlink’s big networked customer base. Congrats to both.

Sequoia is the first mobile payments product that allows retailers to securely and immediately accept mobile payments with their existing POS machines without a large scale investment in new technology or training. This solution dramatically increases mobile payment convenience for consumers, allowing them to make encrypted payments through a simple Sequoia application on their smartphone (any smartphone, including an iPhone, Android, Windows phone, or Blackberry), without requiring additional hardware or gear to carry with them.

 Here’s a quick run-through of the process:
 
1)       Consumers enter their credit card, loyalty and debit card data onto the downloaded Sequoia app on their phone.
2)      When they go to the store, they simply open the Sequoia application on their phone, select the credit card they wish to use, and, touch “pay” on their phone.
3)      Sequoia (which is a peel-and-stick appliance that goes onto the store’s POS machine) receives an encrypted signal with the information from the phone, translates it, and transmits it wirelessly to the credit card reader.
No doubt there are many big stories coming out of NRF- this is a great event to follow and in many ways is as big as any event for WLAN vendors.