Tag Archives: Open-Mesh

Open Mesh Adds Switches To CloudTrax

I wrote about Open Mesh right here back in 2014. Though I run a number of “brand-name” networks that range in size from small to humongous, I also have a real appreciation for non-mainstream vendors that bring a compelling story. Open Mesh is at the top of my list in that regard, for a number of reasons:

  • I believe in the effectiveness of cloud-managed networking
  • I get tired of huge licensing fees
  • I don’t believe that every environment needs a feature list longer than my arm, and the pricing and code bugs that go with it
  • I like a company that empathizes with the customer when it comes to TCO, versus ramming contrived performance tests down our collective throats to justify stratospheric pricing
  • I like rooting for “the little guy” as long as that little guy is legit

Now, back to Open Mesh.. Let’s play a quick game.

Riddle me this: what model AP is in the following picture?

ap

Is it-

a. Bluesocket (Adtran) 1920 AP
b. AirTight (Mojo Networks) C-55 AP
c. Open Mesh MR1750 AP
d. Any one of several other APs that look like this

The answer? It’s ALL of them. I currently have two of the Open Mesh MR 1750 3×3 11ac APs in test at Wirednot HQ. As you can hopefully see, Open Mesh has opted to use a fairly popular “industry standard” AP form factor (though the other APs listed are actually 11n). This decent-quality AP lists for $225 and requires NO LICENSE to use with the excellent CloudTrax dashboard (shown here).

cloudtrax1

CloudTrax is peppy, well laid-out, and suffers none of the browser wonkiness of certain NMS systems. Open Mesh has done a great job with providing cost-effective cloud-enabled Wi-Fi, and they have a loyal following despite not being heavy on advertising. That’s a good thing… which just got even better.

Now, Open Mesh has switches.

Like Open Mesh’s APs, the new switches are priced to sell and are also managed WITHOUT LICENSES in CloudTrax. Here’s my own S24.

cloudtrax2

Between the APs and switches, Open Mesh provides a lot of value. Though the product set is arguably lacking a router/gateway component, it still has to be experienced to be believed. It’s that good, for that cheap.

Caveats: I should mention that I’m not huge on the use of mesh in any WLAN setting. This is where one AP uses radio for backhaul to another AP to eventually find it’s way to the wired network. It cuts throughput way down, and can be wonky depending on the vendor. Open Mesh has a strong history in using mesh connectivity. While I’m a fan of Open Mesh, I tend to run every AP home-run with it’s own UTP except for the absolute rare case where that’s not possible.

In my simple testing, Open Mesh is standing up well to Meraki, Ubiquiti, Ruckus, and Aruba APs in what approximates an SMB environment. I’m not in an HD setting, nor am I attempting to do any sort of conclusion-seeking performance bake-off. At the same time, there’s been nothing I’ve thrown at the MR1750s on the S24 switch that they can’t handle as well as any of the other APs I run. I’m not advocating ripping out your enterprise network for Open Mesh, but I can say that it’s absolutely worth looking at and judging for yourself.

 

 

 

Getting to Know the Very Cool Open-Mesh Wi-Fi System

As I root around at the more inexpensive end of the Suitable-For-Business WLAN space, one product set keeps jumping out at me. Open-Mesh is a big story in a little package, with a pretty crazy feature:cost ratio (as in crazy impressive). It’s just a really neat, innovative framework that offers cloud-managed APs for under $100, with a cloud dashboard that couldn’t be easier to use.

To boot, there is a free Android and iOS app for CloudTrax, and it looks real nice.

This Ain’t Market-Leading Wi-Fi, Nor Does It Try It To Be

One trap that many wireless professionals fall into (in my opinion) is not being agile enough of mind to set aside their loyalties to top-end product sets and simply appreciate what’s out there in the interesting edges of the wireless market. Sure, many of us have million-dollar WLAN environments and appreciate what we get in exchange for Large Costs, but there is life beyond Cisco and Aruba just like there are cars beyond Cadillac and Lexus. If you can open your mind and get over yourself, Open-Mesh fills a cool, low-cost niche for clients that GOTTA have Wi-Fi but DON’T have the dollars or know-how to pull off a pricier install.

Open-Mesh doesn’t really advertise, it sells itself word-of-mouth by satisfied users. It’s roots are largely the same as the early days of Meraki, where “roofnet” low-cost nodes were meant to provide connectivity to the underserved. If you are familiar with Meraki, and look in on Open-Mesh’s CloudTrax dashboard, you’ll see a lot of similarities.

OpenMesh3

It’s almost like “Meraki in Miniature”! The cloud management account in it’s current form is 100% free, there are NO licensing or account fees, and an overview of features is here. Though I’m not at liberty to say what other features and options are coming, I can say that Open-Mesh has some very cool evolutions on the short horizon.

What About the APs?

There are a number of interesting aspects about the Open-Mesh AP product set. (Again, these are not meant to compete with product like Cisco 3700s, so fight the natural urge to compare and trash the “lesser” product.) The APs are modular in that just a few radios are swappable into different enclosures, letting you “build” the APs that you need. There is no labeling on the APs- if you are in the WI-Fi networking business, your own logo can go on the APs (and in the cloud dashboard, for that matter). And for sparing, you don’t even need an enclosure.

The Open-Mesh APs are detailed here, and make sure you click “Show More Specs” for the full picture. Though you won’t see any dual-band or 11ac APs in the line-up now, take another look at the prices. You’re still getting pretty decent value, and you can expect more impressive hardware spec’d APs to come along soon from Open-Mesh.

So… Who Uses Open-Mesh?

If you get interested enough to learn more, Open-Mesh does have business reference accounts happy to talk about about their success with this unique system. Aimed mostly (but certainly not limited to) housing/hospitality/SMB customers, Open-Mesh has single sites with just a couple of APs all the way to  sites with APs measured in the hundreds.

I personally am working on a potential public WLAN project for my own very small village, and Open-Mesh is at the top of my “to consider” list given the available features, low cost, and decent reputation of the solution. More to follow if I end up pulling it off…

There are a lot- LIKE A WHOLE LOT- of low-end WLAN solutions out there. I’ll be writing up this market niche for Network Computing soon, and will be talking about pros and cons of not spending the big bucks when it comes to WLANs. Meanwhile, take a look at Open-Mesh and see if you don’t find it as intriguing as I do.