Tag Archives: Enterasys

An Outsider Looks At AirTight’s Recent Hires

I don’t get to the Silicon Valley very often, but I am a professional free-lance media type and have been monitoring and covering goings on in the WLAN space for a lot of years. Last night I got an email regarding Steven Glapa leaving Ruckus, and heading for AirTight networks as the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer. I don’t usually give coverage to staff changes in the Valley, as there are just too many of them that happen frequently, and I’m not big on puffing up egos by reporting on individuals’ career decisions. But something about the AirTight email got me thinking beyond their new CMO.

The sender of the email used the words “snagged” and “talent poaching” to describe the luring of Glapa away from Ruckus, and perhaps that’s what set the Hook of Deeper Thinking into my handsomely chiseled jaw. I have no knowledge of what made AirTight appealing to Glapa, or what it is about Ruckus that made him want to move on, and frankly I don’t really give a rip. But being a habitual Big Picture thinker, here’s what Glapa’s move got me thinking about.

  • The notion of Validation has gotten used often lately. Cisco buying Meraki validated cloud-managed wireless, which also made Aerohive and PowerCloud happy.  More recently, Aruba Networks released their opening cloud volley, followed by an interesting offering from Enterasys– again, validating the model. AirTight is part of the growing cloud-managed WLAN space, and though it’s roots are in the love-it-or-hate-it security overlay realm, has picked a hot direction to evolve given all of the validation of cloudy wireless going on these days.
  • AirTight also recently “poached” a couple of high profile staff assets from Aerohive Networks, in the forms of one Devin Akin and one Andrew von Nagy. Again, staff moves aren’t my kind of news as a rule, but there is a significance here- cloud-managed wireless has matured to the point where cloud vendors can steal each others’ expertise, as there is now an experienced cadre of cloud-savvy networkers to court. This wasn’t the case not so long ago.
  • Perhaps a “shaking out” of this market sector is imminent? AirTight gained a CMO from Ruckus, two “Evangelists” (I’m starting to of tire that term, Jimmy Swaggart) from Aerohive, and all three companies are arguably “small”. Though wireless itself is a big and growing market, could these sorts of moves reflect some hidden gloom at the “donor” companies? This is pure speculation, obviously, but also a natural mental path to wander down. How many smaller and/or cloud-managed companies can the market sustain at this point?
  • AirTight better make a splash soon, as none of these guys are probably working for cheap. Akin certainly has name recognition as a WLAN deity, with von Nagy no slouch in this regard. I don’t know much about Glapa, but given that Ruckus has been on fire at times, he must have a good business touch. So three strong HR adds have been made to a company that has a product line that needs to do some catching up before (in my opinion, at least) it legitimately competes with Meraki and Aerohive for robustness of feature set. Hopefully the new guys hasten that development for AirTight’s sake, given that payroll seems to be swelling for a company “new” to the WLAN access market.
  • Despite all of the growth and media coverage of cloudy WLAN of late, the controller-based folks still own the market. But… the division between controller-based and cloud-managed is being blurred as more vendors are doing unholy things to the control and data planes and diluting the bajeezus out of the controller model at times. The point? There is still an awful lot of industry evolution to be done. Each and every vendor in the mix has the daunting task of evolving while not losing customers or overwhelming them with constantly changing license models, lexicon, and topologies. Whether controllers completely age out and the cloud wins, or whether we end up with options in a few years remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the religious wars surrounding each kind of WLAN will rage on.

And that pretty much ends my lunch hour of deep thought- back to work I go.

Outsourced Wireless- Enterasys’ New Offering

By now, cloud-managed wireless has certainly gained legitimacy. To over-simplify, cloudy WLAN is often touted as both an alternative to hardware-heavy and maintenance-intensive controller-based Wi-Fi solutions, as well as being marketed as a good fit for environments that have limited IT staff at distributed sites. Enterasys is now taking that second point even further; the company is offering a completely outsourced cloud-managed solution that you pay someone else to worry about- from planning to installation to daily operations.

Sure, outsourcing is dirty word to many of us in the IT world, but Enterasys’ strategy has merit for certain situations. With every new technology release (both on the infrastructure and client device sides), wireless networking gets ever more complex. Many businesses simply can’t afford to have wireless professionals on staff to keep it all on the rails, yet business Wi-Fi is pretty much a must any more for most of us. Rather than limp along on a Hail Mary solution pieced together by consumer-grade parts or blowing HR budget to get a WLAN pro on staff, there likely is a sweet spot out there in Customer Land for the Enterasys Experiment.

Here’s the Important Stuff:

  • Enterasys has partnered with PCM, Inc for the customer-facing end of the 100% turn-key service offering
  • The WLAN hardware is the IdentiFi line, while OneFabric provides the cloud/management magic
  • Remember, this is managed all the way- the most the end customer gets is a read-only glimpse of what’s up
  • PCM or it’s subs will plan, design, upkeep, respond to trouble, and even do AP upgrades when it’s time as part of the service
  • The solution is aimed at small-to-medium businesses that need reliable wireless but don’t have the staff to pull it off

Find out more here:

My Own Take On Enterasys’ Offering

It’s a big wireless market, and only getting bigger with more nuanced use cases. There should be room for what Enterasys is attempting, but at the same time I offer:

  • I know little of PCM’s capabilities or track record. Enterasys’ success in this venture depends on the quality of the PCM Cloud Wireless Service experience and how it’s executed for each customer.
  • In any local market, how the actual support model plays out will be interesting. I’d hate to be a Syracuse, NY customer that has to wait for service from a technician in New Jersey or Boston. I don’t know that this would be the case, but similar services in other technologies (CCTV, security, etc) often have enormous service areas.
  • It’s one thing to say that “this is 100% turn-key”, but if it ties into a business LAN, eventual finger pointing is inevitable when something isn’t clicking as it should, whether it be PoE or DHCP/DNS. Potential customers need to be aware that if the entire network isn’t outsourced but wireless is, sooner or later you’ll need to provide a resource or two to help with issues.

As managed services becomes more a part of major WLAN vendors’ blueprints, I’d expect to see more of these announcements.