On Monday night, Network Computing held it's annual Well Connected Awards ceremony. Airespace walked away not only with the award for best wireless product but also with the grand prize as our Product of the Year. It's a well-deserved recognition for a company that shipped its first product just a little more than a year ago. I've long felt that Airespace has the right combination of technologists and experienced managers to carve out a significant position in the market, and the company hasn't disappointed.
On Tuesday, a number of Network Computing editors -- with help from editors at several other CMP publications -- chose winners for the annual Best of Interop Awards, which recognize new product introductions. In the wireless category, Airespace, Cisco and Firetide were the finalists and, after a rather spirited debate, Airespace walked away with another award.
Firetide's new HotPoint outdoor wireless mesh router had Interop written all over it. In essence, HotPoint provides wireless backhaul services for wireless or Ethernet devices for those situations where it's impractical to pull cable using dynamic mesh technology. The company's outdoor product provides those backhaul services across a two-mile radius. It's very interesting technology, but perhaps a bit ahead of its time.
Cisco entered several products in this year's Best of Interop competition, and its Wireless LAN Services Module (WLSM) was chosen as a finalist. On Monday on the show floor, Cisco provided us with a very effective demo, marred only by the noise created by mini-cranes and cherry pickers. All of Cisco's competitors are by now well armed with competitive positioning information. It's true that there are still some notable shortcomings in Cisco's new enterprise WLAN offering and that the implementation cost is fairly high. Still, I'm betting that many current Cisco customers will perceive the product as entirely adequate to meet their needs. Provided the WLSM performs reliably -- and given Cisco's enthusiasm to get one into our labs, we are anticipating it will -- it's likely to solidify the company's market-leading position.
In the end, Airespace walked away with this award as well. The company's new Intelligent RF Access Point (IRAP) is the first product to implement MIMO-based smart antenna technology to enhance performance and range. Purists will argue that it's not a pure MIMO implementation (it actually uses a standard Atheros chipset with an enhanced MIMO antenna module developed by Airespace), but the panel of judges felt it was the most innovative wireless offering submitted for evaluation. Let's hope it lives up to its promise in the lab.