Tag Archives: Devin Akin

Some Gimmicks Get A Lot Further Than They Should

Man oh man, people can come up with really goofy shit sometimes when it comes to technology, wild claims, and the quest for big dollars. Let me give you two examples that will make your head spin a bit, especially if you know anything about wireless networking.

Bizarre Gimmick #1: LightSquared

We don’t really need all those GPS satellites to work, do we? This article I wrote for Network Computing in 2012 tells the tale of technical lunacy that, thankfully, seems to have failed hard. But it’s important to get familiar with LightSquared because the same FCC that let it gain far more traction than common sense dictates it should have is now considering another gazillion-dollar steaming pile of foolishness- which brings us to….

Bizarre Gimmick #2: TLPS (from the fine folks at Globalstar)

Just so all you misguided idiots out there doing WLAN for a living know: 5 GHz isn’t very good for Wi-Fi. The great hope lies with channel 14 in the 2.4 GHz band.

uh, right. Gimme some of what yer tokin’ there, Globalstar.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

I thought Kerrisdale Capital did a pretty good job making the case for why TLPS is a pie-in-the-sky wet dream, and put together a number of good, reasonably accurate summaries on contemporary wireless technology, like this one.

But Globalstar and friends are sticking to the premise that Kerrisdale, wireless experts, and pretty much the entire WLAN industry is clueless. (Hello, black kettle, said the pot.)

How long can Globalstar cling to it’s weird strategy when Wi-Fi industry bigwigs of impeccable credibility like Devin Akin also publicly voice crystal-clear skepticism about TLPS?

We’ll have to see where this one goes. But in a perfect world, the FCC would get a better handle early on when it comes to differentiating viable innovationfrom make-a-few-people-wealthy gimmickry.

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.

Aerohive Throws Hat Into The 802.11ac Ring

Ah, this crazy wireless world we live in. It’s easy to forget that 802.11ac is still not “really” a standard, although we’re getting very close.  It’s also easy to get sparkly-eyed by the 11ac products available now, despite the fact that with the new standard’s promised weird and protracted “wave” planned evolution, 11ac in a couple of years will likely feature many a new AP. But.. let’s talk about the here and now, because we’re here- and it’s now.

Since Ubiquiti announced their 11ac offering in April of this year, many of us have watched as different WLAN vendors have pitched their new 11ac products (and accompanying back stories). There was Motorola, Meraki, Meru,  Cisco, and Aruba. And then there are the not-yet-to announce, like Ruckus,  Juniper, and until today, Aerohive.

Aerohive brings two new APs to the 11ac market, and No Jitter does a nice introduction of the AP-370 (internal antennas) and AP-390 (external antennas) along with Aerohive’s take on how the new units fit into a smooth, take-your-time-and-don’t-fret-it migration plan to full 11ac deployment. Aerohive’s entry into the 11ac market does two things: it both pushes the message of early 11ac adoption but in a less aggressive way than some competitors are going about it, and further delivers the truth that cloud-based networking is both viable and capable of evolving with new WLAN standards. This second point gets some added umph when you consider that Aerohive announced their 11ac APs on the same day that Aruba Networks announced it’s own maiden voyage into cloudy WLAN. (It certainly smells like the WLAN industry is marching towards both faster WLAN and a welcome de-emphasis of controllers, says I.)

It’s a bit curious that Aerohive took so long to let their 11ac cat out of the bag (though I confess to getting a sneak look at the AP-370 under NDA at Wireless Field Day 5) given that Matthew Gast is is both Aerohive’s Director of Product Management and the author of the current Bible du Jur on 11ac. Many of us have come to personally  associate 11ac with Matthew because of his book, his excellent presentations on 11ac, and his willingness to talk with anybody who reaches out to him via social media. (If you think about it, this really isn’t fair to Matthew, the IEEE, Aerohive, or even ourselves!)

For what it’s worth, Matthew’s fellow cloud/11ac evangelists Devin Akin and Andrew Von Nagy recently left Aerohive, and both went to AirTight Networks (yet another cloud WLAN company)- who have yet to announce their own 11ac product.