Cloudy with a chance of meat donuts

I just got back from an amazing week at Wireless Field Day 5. Being a big deal on the Internet came up and I made sure to push my case that my mum thinks I’m a big deal on the Internet too. I expect though that all mums (or moms if you prefer) think their kids are a big deal. In any case, I happen to have the pleasure of doing these events with a bunch of wireless engineers who believe I’m a big enough deal that I keep getting invited back. I think it’s probably something to do with me being opinionated enough to ask tough questions and be honest when I’m wrong or don’t have all the information.

We had a great bunch of presenters this time around and I applaud every one of you for showing up in front of a bunch of wireless geeks when you didn’t really know what to expect from us. I will, however, make a general statement that ignoring questions doesn’t make them go away in front of such a crowd, it just makes those asking more determined to find out what it is you’re hiding. Two of the presenters, Xirrus and Meru Networks have controversial products, which naturally elicited from us a bunch of questions about how they deal with the issues we see with their approach. Although I cannot say that either one really satisfied the requests for information, the approach taken by the presenters could not have been more different. Suffice to say, this was my reaction to the plain ignoring the question and pleading ignorance that Meru Networks choose to take (as recorded by Blake Krone);

RAWR

First of all I would like to say that Xirrus founder and executive chairman Dirk Gates showed an amazing amount of technical knowledge for a CEO and went out of his way to try his best to answer the questions being thrown at him by the delegates. He did default a few time to not diving quite as deeply as we would like but he at least promised to bring back engineers to answer our questions next time. It was also apparent with the demonstration portion of the talk that the arrays do work well for large venues that need to deal with 10’s of thousands of clients. I think that more than anything, the willingness shown by Dirk and his team to be up front and open about their tech and to try to answer the details we were asking for was admirable. I still have some reservations surrounding other client use cases, but I accept that for their main market, large venues, it works well.

Meru Networks, however, chose a different tack. That was to gloss over the issues with Co-Channel Interference (CCI) in their product and plead ignorance about the technical details when the person being asked was clearly a technical manager. This just annoys technical people and makes us even more determined to either a) find out what you are hiding or b) conclude that really your product has a basic issue that prevents it’s widespread adoption in the enterprise. As the presentation went on, it became clear that Meru was going to ignore questions about CCI and so I can only conclude that the latter is the correct conclusion.

This matches what I have thought about Meru for quite some time now, there is a basic, physical limitation to their Single Channel Architecture (SCA) that means it cannot scale well. This will likely be exacerbated by 802.11ac when it comes out. I believe that Meru will have more and more difficulty in convincing customers of the benefits of their products and I will continue to see Meru as I have seen them up until now, which is them being replaced because their solution just doesn’t perform well in a high capacity environment that modern enterprises need.

If I can give advice to any company who is planning on attending a wireless field day, it would be first, put on your fire pants because you will get asked tough questions from the delegates and second, it would be bring along your top engineers to answer questions. The companies that have most impressed us were the one’s who were not shy to bring forward their technical genius who had a deep understanding of their products. We as a group are deeply passionate about wireless networks and RF (and in my case, wireless security) and because of this we have a depth of knowledge you won’t get from any other audience.

3 Responses to “Cloudy with a chance of meat donuts”

  1. wifi says:

    Channel layering vs MCA: we need to think about how to use more spectrum at a given point in space. In a few years this will tend to using entire spectrum in a given location. Channel layering is so much more intuitive. Think about channel planning with MCA.
    Even if CCI is a factor at overlap regions, there’s too much to gain in the spectrum than worry about CCI, which will be inevitable.

  2. Bruce Miller says:

    Chris – we appreciated the interactive discussions last week at WFD5. It is a great forum – only regret is that we did not have more time!

    Given the interest on the topic of interference mitigation within the Xirrus Array platform, we put together a post that summarizes what we do and expands a bit more on some of the points we discussed. The post “Interference Mitigation Within the Xirrus Array” is on the Xirrus blog here: http://www.xirrus.com/blog

    Bruce Miller
    Xirrus, Inc.

  3. Matt Overstreet says:

    Chris,

    To answer some of these questions Meru has published a new blog post. Unfortunately there is not a deep dive into CCI and how we are able to deploy it. Follow up questions are encouraged and you can leave them in the comments. Also, I can assure you that our deployments work on a large scale, and there are plenty Meru customers that will vouch for that.
    http://blog.merunetworks.com/blog/2013/08/single-channel-architecture-sca-and-wfd5-lets-discuss/

    Best regards,

    Matt Overstreet
    Meru Networks

Leave a Response