Tag Archives: Xirrus

Quick Hits: Xirrus, Ruckus, Cambium, Mojo Networks, Nyansa, CWNP

I don’t typically do aggregation blogs, as I prefer to explore a topic or product first-hand and write it up with my own learned perspective. At the same time, I’ve been full-out busy of late and don’t want to not give these topics at least some minor attention in case you have an interest in any. So many cool things happening in the world of wireless…

Xirrus- New HD AP, With Flavor Crystals! OK, no flavor crystals. That was just to keep you hooked. But Xirrus has announced the new .11ac Wave 2 XA4 access point that does support external antennas (really unique for Xirrus) and claims to replace four traditional APs from the competition. Check it out, and if you’re a Xirrus fan or pundit, please leave a comment at the end of this blog.


Ruckus- What Comes Next? In case you missed it, Ruckus Wireless may be facing an uncertain future. The Big Dog was bought by Brocode not too long ago, and now Broadcom is buying Brocade. And… Broadcom doesn’t want Ruckus or the rest of the Ethernet portfolio from Brocade. Did you get all that? Here’s hoping that our Ruckus brothers and sisters all land on their feet. Ruckus has a loyal following, so many of us are watching this one closely.


Cambium Partners With Disaster Tech Labs to help Refugees- There is a tech side to the unfortunate human drama playing out daily on the Island of Lesvos, as countless refugees flea the horrors of Syria and other garden spots for Europe. Disaster Tech Lab goes  where it’s needed when trouble hits, and the need is strong right now on Lesvos. The organization has teamed up with Cambium Networks to provide a range of services for the refugees and those who are directly assisting them.


Mojo Networks Leads the White Box Movement. Mojo Networks is a WLAN vendor, yes- but they also have some fascinating folks on staff that are involved with the Open Compute Project (OCP) and efforts to evolve “white-box WiFi” into a viable option. If you’ve felt like you’re on the losing end of “vendor lock” you’ll probably find the entire notion fascinating. Here’s an interesting presentation from Mojo on the idea of open access points.


Nyansa Adds Application Analysis to Voyance. I’ve been following Nyansa since before they were public, with early NDA briefs on the very powerful Voyance analytics platform. It’s taking WiFi analytics to really interesting cloud-enabled places, and recently got yet another feature boost by adding application analysis to Voyance’s powerful network key performance indicators.


CWNP Awards 200th CWNE Certification. The best source for wireless training in the world has just hit an incredible milestone, and the honor and privilege are mine.

Now you know! Thoughts? Comments? Let ’em rip. 

How Does Ekahau ESS Stay Current For APs and Antennas?

EkahauSo I’m sitting on a bench at the mall, and this guy plops down on the other end. I can hear him sobbing a little. I’m thinking “poor bastard, must be a death in the family, or his wife split…” But then I hear his kid about 10 feet away say to a pal “my dad is a complete loser- he doesn’t even know how the world’s best Wi-Fi survey and planning tool gets updated for new APs and antennas!”

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I really don’t know how it happens, either. I’m a loser too!

But there’s a big difference between me and Sobby Bench Guy. He’s not a gonzo bloggist with a license to ask the tough questions. That’s my turf, and that’s just what I did to get my mind right on the topic. I put on my Interrogator Fez and went gunning for everyone’s favorite European guy, Jussi Kiviniemi. Sure, he’s Ekahau’s VP of Wi-Fi Tools, but I don’t mind running in those circles now and then. I grilled Dr. J pretty good, and he gave me what I was looking for. Read on.

Q. How long does it take to get a new WLAN AP or antenna added to ESS, once Ekahau
has the technical information?
Jussi: Depending on load & urgency, it takes 1 day to 3 weeks to get it done. It’ll be published in next sw release (sw updates about every 2 months).

Q. Does Ekahau have a strategy for retiring old APs or antennas from the software
Jussi: Good question. Not really. Happens organically through Wi-Fi vendor acquisitions. We actually should probably take out the 802.11b stuff if we haven’t already 😉

Q.  How does Ekahau find out about new APs/antennas from the major vendors?
Jussi: It varies. Today, they often send the new or upcoming stuff proactively. That’s good for their business too. If not, we ask. Often customers ask us, then we ask the vendor. 

Q.  Why is it advantageous for vendors to get their stuff into ESS?
Jussi: A lot of their partners use our tool (we are tool of choice for Cisco, Aruba, Aerohive,…). And they often want to design using the actual stuff as it is more accurate. 

Q.  What’s the oddest antenna you’ve seen in ESS?
Jussi: At first, the Xirrus arrays were different. I wish we had the planner already back in the Vivato days, that would have been interesting. Also, the Ventev floor mount stuff is refreshing. 

Q.  Any other thoughts on the topic of adding products to ESS?
Jussi: I highly encourage the public and vendors to contact us to tell us which APs or antennas they are missing. It’s a free service to add them. Twitter, web site form or wifidesign@ekahau.com all work. 

We also add things like multi-SSID MAC combining as one radio, and multiple radios into one physical AP.  This requires specs from vendors too. 

And there you have it. Just a little behind-the-scenes information on how a great tool stays fresh. I’ll echo Jussi’s last point: if you see something missing, give Ekahau a shout to get the program updated. ESS is huge tool in the WLAN industry’s toolbox, so keeping it current is a win for everyone.

Additional Resources:

 

Xirrus Loses One, Wins One

One of the more curious WLAN players in the market, Xirrus is always interesting. The wireless array company certainly doesn’t sit still from a development perspective, and is usually among the first WLAN vendors to get major popular new features announced. I’ve met with Xirrus at Wireless Field Day 5 (their presentations here) and WFD 6, and followed their evolution through the years with a number of articles written about them..

Of late, Xirrus has a bit of a bad news/good news story to tell.

The bad news- they’ve been dropped from Gartner’s 2015 Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Magic Quadrant. Many of us in the WLAN industry have fairly low regard for Gartner’s current methodology in this space, but at the same time those in the market for business Wi-Fi frequently refer to the report for information on the pros and cons of industry players. I don’t agree with Xirrus’ exclusion, but it is what it is.

On the sunnier side, Xirrus has just announced a potential game-changing feature for customers struggling to do secure guest Wi-Fi. Called “EasyPass Personal”, it’s easy to mistakenly equate the new offering to the likes of Aerohive’s Private PSK. Xirrus differs significantly from just PPSK in that EasyPass Personal allows the guest/visitor to set up their own SSID and private pre-shared key. Yeah, read that again because it’s pretty wild.

easypasspersonal

See more on Xirrus’ web site here.

My thoughts on EasyPass Personal: I’ve not tried it, so can’t speak to the feature first-hand. My only real concern is whether the generation of personal guest networks in the air creates a lot of management overhead traffic (seems like it could, at first thought). But beyond that, I applaud Xirrus for bringing an innovative new option to the ridiculously challenging paradigm of secure guest access. Hotspot 2.0 is the promised “official” answer to secure guest Wi-Fi, but it’s both complicated and going nowhere. EasyPass Personal *seems* like a nice methodology, so I’d love to hear from Xirrus users who try it.

Xirrus Debuts EasyPass for Simplified WLAN Access

I say it often: any more, access points have become secondary players in the bigger Wi-Fi story. Sure, it’s fun to read about new APs- especially with Wave 2 fueling whopping performance claims- but what makes a WLAN system truly usable is all of the other stuff that vendors are adding to their WLAN solutions. APs either work well enough to keep a company in business, or they don’t. But the magic for Wi-Fi goes way past RF doings, as evidenced by Xirrus’ newly announced EasyPass.

easypass

EasyPass isn’t exactly revolutionary unto itself, but seeing Xirrus join others in the field doing similar means that wireless users are also getting the attention they deserve amidst the running hype of new hardware announcements. That’s a good thing- and Xirrus delivers it’s new onboarding solution without added appliances to manage.

Read more on EasyPass.

As I reviewed the PR materials on EasyPass, I was struck by one notion in particular: with no need for certificates,etc, Xirrus’ new feature set has a similar feel to Aerohive’s Private PSK. I’m a huge fan, and wish every vendor offered this for guest WLAN. I did query Xirrus to make sure I was on target for EasyPass’ secure onboarding.

From Bruce Miller, Xirrus VP of product marketing (I run in those circles, you know):

Yes, security for EasyPass Onboarding is achieved through what we call a User PSK with every user assigned a unique PSK. The number of devices per user  allowed can be controlled, e.g. 1, 2, 3, etc. This allows individual Wi-Fi security and control per user without captive portals and without the complexity of 802.1x/RADIUS, for example for BYOD users and headless devices. 802.1x security with a captive portal is supported as an option. EasyPass eliminates the agent / app downloads of other onboarding systems that add significant complexity to the process. We have seen that many organizations find their employees defaulting to use the non-secured guest network for access because of its relative simplicity.

Well done, Xirrus.

A Six-Pack Of WLAN Industry Developments

Things are always shaking in Wi-Fi Land. New stuff, company goings on, regulatory drama… it’s never boring. Here’s a quick bundle of interesting hits to consider.

  1. Meraki Founders Quit CiscoI’m not only a Meraki user, I’ve been following the company for years under the brim of my analyst’s hat. I delighted when Meraki came out with their MX line, and later when switches joined the lineup. There’s a lot of power in the Meraki magic, so I can’t say I was totally surprised when Cisco bought them for north of a billion dollars. At the same time, I had my concerns. Far be it for anyone not in the loop to speculate on why Meraki’s Founding Three have opted to split, but it does fuel all sorts of speculation depending on your frame of reference.

  2. Xirrus Has Announced a Cloud-Managed 11ac Wallplate AP. This is an industry first (as far as I know) and I hope other vendors follow soon (are you listening, Meraki?)

  3. Meru also has new product offering: Xpress CloudWith 2×2 11ac APs managed via cloud subscription, aimed at SMBs. (Meru ain’t dead, folks.)

  4. Fluke Networks’ Air Magnet Enterprise gets an upgrade.  Quoting my brief: “The new version of AirMagnet Enterprise includes several major security enhancements, new 802.11ac functionality, the industry¹s first “No Wireless or Cellular Zone” capability, new PCI 3.0 compliance features,  and more. Enterprise is already unique with its Automated Health Check and Dynamic Threat Update capabilities, but these new features make it even more powerful, and a crucial solution for organizations that can¹t afford to have wireless security loopholes.” Alas- it’s still an overlay…

  5. Ruckus Ups Their Smart Wi-Fi Game. A laundry list of beefy feature goodness is aimed at improved Wi-FI calling, among other enhancements.

  6. Eero. Interesting promise and premise. We’ll have to see how this one plays out- but promising people that you can solve dead spots in the home without running wires will get attention.

I don’t typically favor scraping press releases into a digest blog, but this mix of topics struck me as a bit profound in showing just how dynamic the Wi-Fi world is at many tiers. Exciting, thought-provoking stuff that can be hard to keep up on.  Don’t blink, things change quick around here!

 

How A Dude Named Avi Scored Big For Xirrus

Sure, Wireless Field Day 6 is long since over, yet this quick blog is very much about Xirrus at WF6. My mind zipped back there as I was working away at my desk, and glancing over at the Twitter feed I saw that one Avi Hartenstein is now following me in the Twitterverse. As I returned the favor and added him to my own list, I got hit with the recollection of what Avi was able to do for Xirrus at WFD6.

Simply put, he softened hearts and opened up minds.

I’ve done my own share of wishing Xirrus would open up more about how they execute their unique antenna magic to allow lots of radios to all co-exist under the hood of one of their funky arrays, and it’s no secret that a number of the Wireless Field Day delegates were pretty skeptical about Xirrus’ methods.

But then came Avi. A humble, confident, fairly mellow fellow that basically made his case, shared a bit of his methodology, and told us esentially to take it or leave it because he designed it, it works, and he can prove it. And in the background, I can’t be the only one that was hearing “Ice Ice Baby” playing in my head.

This cool dude reminded us that antenna designs can vary dramatically between the “what you think you see” and the “what it actually does electrically” paradigms. And that was nice.

Sam Clements wrote a good blog after trying a Xirrus unit after WFD6, on the ability of Xirrus to put out a directional signal. It’s a good read.

I’m sure there are still Xirrus skeptics out there, but if you ever get a chance to interact with Mr. Hartenstein you’ll be glad you did. He’s an Antenna Guy for sure, and I hope we hear a lot from him on Twitter because he may tell the Xirrus story better than anyone.

 

 

Xirrus Comes On Strong At Wireless Field Day 6

So, me and Dirk Gates were hanging out the other day in San Jose…. I run in those circles, you know. (Sean Connery may or may not have been in the room, but that’s another story.) Dirk and his posse were busting some funky narrative on Xirrus wireless, and Tom Hollingsworth was serving me coffee while I took it all in. Ah, life was magical for a couple of hours. But how did Xirrus, you know… do?

Pretty damn good, actually (for the most part). Here’s how it went down, what I took away, and what might have made it just a bit sweeter.

The night before Xirrus did their excellent presentation, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Xirrus VP of Product Marketing, Bruce Miller. We chatted easy about mutual acquaintances, goings in in both of our lives, and Xirrus’ looming presentation. Miller is a class act.

Back to the presentation. Dirk opened the show with a nice overview of his founding of Xircom, and passed around some interesting kit from the pre-802.11 days of “cordless Ethernet”. This is one sharp Exec. Gates’ professional history is fascinating, and you gotta appreciate that he has made an empire out of doing WLAN different from the rest of the pack, despite keeping up with feature sets. Xirrus has an 802.11ac offering, application visibility, a cloud story, and all the trappings that go with the typical enterprise WLAN system. But as anybody in the business knows, Xirrus is not the typical WLAN system when it comes to the Access Point side of the equation. And this is what makes the company controversial at times

To address the controversy square on, Gates brought THE BIG GUN, and he stole the show. Mr. Avi Hartenstien is Xirrus’ Director of RF Engineering, and as you can see from the video, Avi IS the magic beyond Xirrus’ multi-radio arrays. Regardless of whether everyone in the room was converted, Avi did a great job of presenting and defending the Xirrus antenna technology. I can tell you as one who has built antennas (for amateur radio) that visual and electrical characteristics of antenna designs can be worlds apart in ease of comprehension, and this may be Xirrus’ biggest liability. People just can’t “see” it as presented.

Overall, Xirrus did great, and I give them a lot of credit for coming back after WDF5.

At the same time, there was a bit of discussion among delegates after Xirrus did their presentation, and I took a couple of things away from that as well:

  • Xirrus ends up being the WLAN servicing a number of big conferences (Microsoft, Interop, others), but many of us have been to those events and have been less than impressed by the Wi-Fi. As high-visibility as these tech conferences are, Xirrus would do well to make sure that whatever integrators are doing the shows with their gear absolutely get it right, because these events may not be working in Xirrus’ favor from the word-of-mouth perspective.
  • Xirrus would do well to offer an array or two to Field Day Delegates and other analysts to play with, not because we want free stuff, but because getting product that you believe in into the hands of skeptics can be the best way to alleviate the skepticism.

I thoroughly enjoyed this session, and I know I learned more about how Xirrus “does it”. I wish them the best in market that is growing both in opportunity and competitiveness.