It's been a while since there was much to talk about in the WLAN management platform space. Each major vendor offers a pane of glass for controlling its own wireless networks, and AirWave's AMP is the closest thing to a "manage any WLAN" solution we've seen. This simple equation has been the status quo, but most wireless management systems are far too complex to unleash beyond the IT inner circle, even where help desk-level roles can be created. But now, Nearbuy Systems' Luneta enables just that, providing an interesting, effective, "just enough" view to provide non-IT stakeholders with insight into the WLAN. But it certainly won't work for everybody.
The Luneta story is a bit complicated, as startup Nearbuy Systems strives to find its place in the wireless world. Luneta is touted as a Web-based analytics and reporting interface, delivered as a software-as-a-service option intended to put an easy-to-digest face on the wireless network, augmenting whatever other management platform you may have. So far, so good? At this point, Luneta works only with AirWave's AMP. And since Aruba Networks purchased AirWave a couple of years back, you might surmise that Luneta is compatible only with Aruba's WLAN hardware. Truth be told, there are still a lot of non-Aruba AMP customers who prefer AirWave to the likes of Cisco's WCS product. So, currently, Luneta works on any WLAN as long as the WLAN is managed by AirWaves's AMP (which is now owned by Aruba Networks). Got it? Other platform compatibility is likely planned for the future, but I couldn't tie Luneta to my Cisco WCS platform today if I wanted to.
Nearbuy CEO Bryan Wargo gave me the nickel tour, demonstrating Luneta's HTML 5-based interface and showing how powerful, clean views of client devices and basic network metrics can lay out on floor plans and show privilege-restricted details even on smartphones. No heatmaps or rogue access point alerts here, just the basic important stuff needed by non-technical or low-tech staffers that can answer a slew of questions about the WLAN without requiring escalation to the guys and gals running the network. Wargo sees managed service providers, enterprise WLAN, health care, education and retail as viable markets for Luneta.
Oh, yes--retail. The retail realm is of particular interest to Nearbuy Systems, as Luneta also happens to be half of Nearbuy's bigger solution that seeks to integrate security video with the premise wireless network in the company's LocalEyes framework. LocalEyes, paired with Luneta in a retail space properly provisioned for wireless and video, seeks to provide a new way to pinpoint client locations within an aisle to enable all sorts of shopping-oriented magic. But that's a blog for another time.