Xirrus Takes Aim at WLAN Performance with New CEO

Can you get wired performance from your wireless network?

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jul 13, 2012
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As mobile devices and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the need for high performance wireless networks is paramount.

It's a need that WLAN vendor Xirrus and its new CEO Shane Buckley understands well. Buckley has taken over the CEO job at Xirrus from founder Dirk Gates. Gates is still actively involved as the Chairman of the company.

Xirrus CEO Shane BuckleyIn an interview with InternetNews, Buckley said that in his view, wireless networking is the most interesting segment of the network world today. It's a sentiment that is backed by analyst researchtoo with growing revenues.

"The big challenge is that there is a massive difference between wireless and wired based networks," Buckley said.

Buckley noted that wired networks will typically give you 80 to over 100 Mbps per user, whereas a wireless network only give you a couple of megabits per second of throughput in reality.

"It's almost like when you unplug your notebook from the Ethernet cable that you go back 17 years in time and you're connected to a 10 megabit shared hub and the performance is pathetic," Buckley said.

Xirrus takes a different approach with its Linux powered arraysthat aim to provide better performance. According to Buckley, Xirrus aims to deliver wired like performance on wireless gear providing an Ethernet switch in the sky.

Buckley explained that Xirrus' directional radios are similar to how telcos use 360 degree cellular towers to deliver better performance.

While Buckley is still relatively new to the role of CEO at Xirrus, his approach won't necessarily be all that different than the former CEO and founder of the company Dirk Gates.

"The only change is that Xirrus is a technology centric company, what I'm trying to bring to the company is to make it more externally customer and market focused," Buckley said.

The market for WLAN gear is a competitive with solution from Cisco, Aruba, HP and Juniper dominating the market. For Buckley, he's aiming to go after customers that are looking for better performance out of their WLAN.

"The long hanging fruit are customers that want wired like performance on the wireless network," Buckley said. "Vertical markets like education, convention centers and stadiums are obvious for us."

One of the key things that big vendors like Cisco and even Aruba like highlight is the fact that their system integrate well with wired networks for policy and network management. It's a story that Xirrus has as well.

"Our strategy is to have unified access control within the network, " Buckley said. "You do that by making sure whatever infrastructure you have in place secured wired and wireless equally."

Then there is also an additional layer of security on the Xirrus array itself. Buckley explained that on everyone of Xirrus' multi-radio array's one of the radios is sitting in passive mode looking for rogue access point detection and IPS services.

Looking forward, Buckley stressed that his company will continue to help customers improve performance and avoid forklift upgrades.

"When 802.11ac is introduced, then you can start inserting new radios without any other changes to the infrastructure," Buckley said. "That's our strategy, it's about ease of migration and deterministic performance so customers can put whatever applications on the network that they want."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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