Meru Meshes with FireTide

FireTide, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based maker of easily extended mesh infrastructure equipment for indoors and out, and Meru Networks, maker of a WLAN system targeting deployments that require voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi), are teaming up.

The deal isn’t exclusive, nor does it involve any particular technological changes or upgrades for either side. But both companies feel the market will benefit from their complementary features, as well as the existing interoperability of their systems.

Barbara Cardillo, vice president of marketing for FireTide, says her company sees a large number of customers, 30 to 40 percent, asking about serving up video over FireTide’s HotPort mesh infrastructure, which works with other third-party access points for client connections.  “Now we’re starting to see the same requests from customers for voice,” she says, bringing up the concept of the WLAN triple-play: supporting data, video, and voice simultaneously. “It’s early adopters, but it’s a clear trend — people want a variety of services on their mesh.”

FireTide’s specialty is not voice, so working with a company like Meru makes sense.

This is Meru’s first announced infrastructure relationship, according to Ben Gibson, vice president of marketing at Meru. They have other partners, such as Hitachi, Fujitsu, Vocera, and Avaya, on the voice side. He says nothing is exclusive or even guaranteed that a customer of Meru’s will be sent to FireTide, but the company had several customers in common already, as well as value added resellers (VARs) using both sets of equipment. “Customers wanted to make sure we interoperate,” says Gibson.

Cardillo says the two companies have sales channels in common: “We would send customers to those channels, or direct to Meru, if they want voice over mesh,” she says. “We’d recommend Meru.”

Interoperability doesn’t mean complete integration, however. Meru’s controllers will not run FireTide HotPorts — though neither company ruled this out for the future.

“For right now, we’ve done interoperability testing, [and] have had joint opportunities in the market where customers needed our abilities for voice and theirs for scale,” says Gibson.

FireTide’s Cardillo says, “We’ve thoroughly tested with their [Meru’s] equipment… We’ve done it in their labs and our labs. There are several deployments going on here in the U.S. and overseas as well.” Neither company would disclose those deployments at this time, however.

One announced Meru deployment that involves outdoor equipment is in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where Azulstar has installed VoWi-Fi for the entire city of 65,000.

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