I recently sat down with Bruce Miller of Xirrus to discuss
the company's latest announcement, Xirrus Wi-Fi Designer-Cloud, to learn how
Xirrus leverages the cloud to wirelessly enable more locations and
VMblog: For VMblog.com readers who do not know, can you tell us a bit more
about Xirrus and your solutions?
Bruce Miller: Xirrus was founded in 2004 by Dirk Gates,
Patrick Parker and Steve DeGennaro; Gates had previously founded Xircom in 1988,
a company which sold computer memory cards, LAN adapters, modems, and remote
access server products. Xirrus began selling wireless networking equipment,
including the patented Wireless Array, in 2006. Today, with over 4,000
customers, you can find Xirrus solutions serving multiple verticals including
general enterprise, education, public venues, healthcare, retail, government,
hospitality, and manufacturing. In all of these environments, Xirrus Wireless
Arrays and access points (APs) are designed to deliver a wired-like experience
to users who rely on wireless connectivity for both business and recreation.
Wireless can do so much more than just provide access to the web.
VMblog: Can you give us an example of how "wireless can do
so much more than just provide access to the web"?
Miller: Sure. We recently outfitted Liverpool Football
Club's Anfield Stadium. For some context: in a stadium or an arena, you're
dealing with extreme wireless device density - thousands of devices. These types
of environments are not easy to deliver a predictable user experience, beyond
just connecting that many devices. Our solution has solved many of the
challenges to achieve such high density wireless. But beyond just getting the
fans online, we worked with Liverpool to deliver services over the wireless
network that enhance the fan experience. These include access to premium
content, such as in-game stats and replays, trivia, betting, and best-play
voting. On top of all this, the network can be used to support mobile POS
devices, digital displays, and ticket scanners, or location-based services such
as GPS navigation to seats, restrooms, and concessions. Anfield also created
concession offers and an online retail web portal, where fans can purchase club
apparel and gear. All of this is enabled by the wireless network
VMblog: I recently read your press release about the Wi-Fi
Designer Cloud. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that fits into the
Xirrus product portfolio?
Miller: To quote Gartner, "By 2015, 80 percent of newly
installed wireless networks will be obsolete because of a lack of proper
planning." We regularly see this as we talk with end users everywhere - poor
planning, or perhaps planning that does not account for sufficient growth.
Xirrus provides a tool called the Wi-Fi Designer that enables network architects
to use predictive analysis and active site surveys to plan a wireless network.
First available as a Windows application, the tool ensures that networks are
planned with sufficient coverage and capacity to meet deployment requirements.
Our reseller partners and many customers use it to ensure the wireless network
is designed right. With this latest announcement, we have added a cloud-based
version of the application that makes it simple and fast to use anywhere. As a
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) application, Wi-Fi Designer-Cloud requires no
installation, upgrade, or maintenance. The tool lets you test "what-if"
scenarios, taking into account building characteristics and types and numbers of
APs and Arrays, and then provides its analysis as graphical feedback. It can be
accessed from anywhere over the web from a browser, and the designs are stored
in the cloud.
VMblog: How else is Xirrus leveraging cloud solutions to
support its access points and wireless arrays?
Miller: Our first Xirrus Cloud Services application was
our Xirrus Management System (XMS). The XMS is a robust wireless network
management application for managing Xirrus wireless networks. The application
provides central configuration management for the network; monitors network
performance, traffic, and client stations; provides administrators a graphical
map of devices and coverage; and providers security monitoring, alerting and
mitigation for rogues and security events. Moving the XMS to the cloud, we have
been better able to simplify wireless management for our customers since we
operationally maintain the application and provide firmware upgrades to wireless
APs and Arrays to ease the burden on IT. In addition, we have rolled out
Mobilize - a completely free turn up and provisioning service available to any
Xirrus AP, Array, or Switch customer. Once the customer sets up Mobilize in the
Cloud, the installation of any new Xirrus product is as simple as just plugging
VMblog: So I have to ask. What's in store for Xirrus in the second half of
Miller: There is a lot going on so watch us for some
exciting announcements in the months ahead. We continue to expand our portfolio
of solutions that enable our customers to deploy robust wireless networks that
simply work and enable wireless service in more and more places. We will
continue to simplify the roll out and operation of wireless networks. And as
always, we will continue to raise the bar on wireless performance.