08:00 PM
Lee Badman
Lee Badman
Connect Directly
Repost This

Xirrus Primes the 802.11ac Pump

Can't wait until next year to buy 802.11ac products? Xirrus hopes to snag eager customers with a preorder program.

Ratification of the 802.11ac wireless standard is about a year away, but that hasn't kept Xirrus from maneuvering for market share today. Xirrus is a wireless array company. Unlike the typical controller-based, microcell architecture from the likes of Cisco and Aruba, Xirrus replaces some quantity of thin access points with a multiradio module that is often described as "a giant AP." This approach has given Xirrus a unique product and a small share of a lucrative market that the company would like to see expand.

In a recent announcement that adds two more products to the wireless array product line, Xirrus has unveiled its new 802.11ac Pre-Order Program, which it says is the first in the industry. New and existing Xirrus customers can get healthy discounts (though the company didn't specify how healthy) on 11ac products that are not yet available. In fact, the products ordered today under the new program may not be available until well into mid-2013. Customers can buy 802.11n now in any new arrays and get 11ac when it ships. Alternatively, they can pre-buy 11ac modules for arrays they currently own.

Xirrus positions the offer as a way for customers to buy arrays today while also getting an 11ac migration strategy as part of the deal. Xirrus has to try approaches like this because WLAN customers tend to jump ship only in cases of extreme dissatisfaction with a vendor, or because a deal from a competitor is so sweet the customer feels compelled to bite. And the bigger the WLAN is, the harder it is for customers to start over with another wireless provider. Vendor lock is the rule in the WLAN industry today, and incumbent players are doing everything they can to maintain their positions. For instance, this month Cisco announced a single management system for its wired and wireless networks.

[Get extensive details on six cloud WLAN vendors in our exclusive buyer's guide. Download Cloud-Managed WLAN Buyer's Guide.]

That said, Xirrus has found markets where its unique multiradio arrays are used in densely crowded venues instead of microcell APs. Sometimes the array becomes an island in the middle of a competing product because the network manager didn't want to go all-Xirrus. The advent of 802.11ac may open another door for Xirrus because many IT shops will evaluate their upgrade options. I know I will.

Though Xirrus may be the first to put 11ac on discount before it even arrives, it's not the only WLAN vendor planting 11ac seeds. Cisco's top-performing 3600 series access point has been on the market since early 2012, and it features a slot for an 11ac module, with expected approval in early 2013. I have a growing number of 3600s in my own environment, but I have yet to hear Cisco make much noise about 11ac (though I'm sure that will change).

I'm glad to see a wireless vendor such as Xirrus take concrete steps toward an 11ac deployment. By connecting dollar signs to products yet to ship, the company is making us start to think with our wallets. Let's see if it catches on with other wireless vendors.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
More Blogs from Commentary
Infrastructure Challenge: Build Your Community
Network Computing provides the platform; help us make it your community.
Edge Devices Are The Brains Of The Network
In any type of network, the edge is where all the action takes place. Think of the edge as the brains of the network, while the core is just the dumb muscle.
Fight Software Piracy With SaaS
SaaS makes application deployment easy and effective. It could eliminate software piracy once and for all.
SDN: Waiting For The Trickle-Down Effect
Like server virtualization and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, SDN will eventually become a technology that small and midsized enterprises can use. But it's going to require some new packaging.
IT Certification Exam Success In 4 Steps
There are no shortcuts to obtaining passing scores, but focusing on key fundamentals of proper study and preparation will help you master the art of certification.
Hot Topics
IT Certification Exam Success In 4 Steps
Amy Arnold, CCNP/DP/Voice,  4/22/2014
Edge Devices Are The Brains Of The Network
Orhan Ergun, Network Architect,  4/23/2014
Heartbleed Flaw Exploited In VPN Attack
Mathew J. Schwartz 4/21/2014
White Papers
Register for Network Computing Newsletters
Current Issue
2014 Private Cloud Survey
2014 Private Cloud Survey
Respondents are on a roll: 53% brought their private clouds from concept to production in less than one year, and 60% ­extend their clouds across multiple datacenters. But expertise is scarce, with 51% saying acquiring skilled employees is a roadblock.
Twitter Feed