There have been three waves of Wi-Fi if you will. Fat APs were the first wave of Wi-FI, these were the Aironet and Symbol APs back in the day. Then came along the controller architecture with Airespace for example. Most vendors these days have a controller based solution like Cisco, Aruba, Motorola, etc. The third and current wave of W-Fi architecture is cloud based solutions. According to AirTight this will take Wi-Fi to next level. While controller-less architectures have a time and place I don’t think we’ll see them completely disappear for a few years yet. Cloud based solutions are great for certain market verticals, but not all.
AirTight has built their NMS platform on HTML5, by doing this they can offer customizability that allows you to create your own dashboards and will also allow an MSP to white label the product with their own brand on it. I compare their product to Cisco Meraki’s solution for example. The two are very close to where I would see them deployed, in franchise deployments where you need to easily manage and configure a network from afar. As an MSP or global support administrator you can have your hierarchal locations inherit their configurations from the top tree branch. If you had a need for a site to stray from the global configuration you can override this however. By using the configuration templates this allows you to provide a configuration to multiple different models, when a new model is released you can add that model to an existing configuration template and be up and running.
A new concept that is becoming more apparent in Wi-Fi products is the use of social networks for getting guest access. AirTight is betting big on this and provide analytics based on the available data provided from the social networks such as twitter and Facebook. By mining the data the end user provides in their social networks you can understand the type of people that are using the wireless in your location. Now obviously there are some concerns regarding security and privacy but we need to remember that all the data they are retrieving you are voluntarily providing on the social media site. So before you get your panties in a bunch take a look at what you include on your profiles! There is no reason why you couldn’t simply have a “toss account” that you use for these types of situations. This actually brings an interesting point, one could game the analytics doing so.
How about some information about their cloud architecture? Right now they have 6 data centers hosted in cloud infrastructure Magic Quadrant leaders. There are 2 in the US, 1 in Europe, 1 in Africa, 1 in SE Asia, and 1 in Australia.Computer platform used is VMware ESXi hypervisor with disc in EMC SAN. There are “Super-tenant” Manager instances, “Multi-tenant” Manager Instances, and then Guest Manager & Analytics Engine. The Manager Instances are each a virtual machine, a single instance is shared by multiple customers. It’s nice to hear about what makes it tick in the backend, Cisco Meraki gave an amazing presentation at WFD4 about their backend so I have to wonder if AirTight watched that video and saw the interest that it created.
While I was bummed to not hear about AirTight’s Security portfolio it was nice to see what their Cloud based wireless network portfolio looked like. I think they have a product that could work well for franchise type deployments and small distributed sites. I look forward to trying out their product and seeing what it is capable of!