If you haven't already heard Cambium bought Xirrus!
Before I get started I wanted to state that I am neither in a position of authority or inside knowledge and anything I state here is purely speculative on my part (mods please feel free to remove this post if it is inappropriate).
I wanted to explore the merger between these two companies and speculate on what the future might hold, mostly from the perspective of Cambium / cnPilot customers as that is my view point.
Here is the official statement from Cambium https://www.cambiumnetworks.com/blog/cambium-networks-announces-the-purchase-of-xirrus-wi-fi-networks-from-riverbed-technology-inc/ they clarify that they have purchased the Xirrus range of access points and a range of software solutions included as part of this deal.
Due to the length of this post I’ve chosen to break this down into different parts (feel free to read only the parts that are of interest to you):
Cambium have of course inherited the Xirrus Cloud controller (XMS Cloud Management). One might ask if cnPilot APs will one day work with XMS or if Xirrus APs will one day work with cnMaestro? To be honest I doubt it, Cisco never made their Aironet APs work with Meraki. I’m not a developer but I’d imagine that the work required to support an entirely new platform is just not worth the time and cost. However if Cambium are planning on migrating Xirrus users to cnPilot, it would be nice if Xirrus APs could be “elevated” like you can do with some non-Cambium SMs but I’m not going to hold my breath.
I’m by no means an expert with the Xirrus Cloud but it has some great features, here are a few things that I liked in particular:
- Reporting; the reports that can be generated are well laid out, easy to customise, full of great information and can even be scheduled. I’d imagine this is a very popular feature.
- Heatmaps; XMS has a inbuilt heatmapping tool! It’s by no means as in depth and clever as something like Ekahau but it’s very cool feature regardless.
- Dashboard; the dashboard is comprised of widgets, you can move widgets around, delete unwanted ones and add new ones. This allows you to create your own custom dashboard based on your requirements.
Cambium are yet to release their pro version of cnMaestro. I’m wondering if they will be able to incorporate the more advanced Xirrus XMS features into a pro-version of cnMaestro so that it can be monetised?
Here is a live demo of Xirrus XMS Cloud Management for anyone interested: https://www.riverbed.com/gb/products/xirrus/xms-cloud-demo.html
One of the things that excites me the most about this deal is the IP that Cambium have been able to acquire. Xirrus have some really cool software solutions, here is a brief overview of each one:
- EasyPass Access – This is a really cool security feature for guest networks, it’s a way of creating your own personal secure network. Here is a short video explaining it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP-DGTRMOo8
- Application Control – This is a powerful tool that uses DPI to prioritise, rate limit or even block specific applications. Here is a more detailed explanation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsonGklAPus
- Xirrus Positioning System (XPS) – XPS lets you track the location of clients, its uses a standards based API so I believe it can already integrate with cnPilot / cnMaestro. https://www.riverbed.com/content/dam/riverbed-www/en_US/Documents/fpo/xirrus/xps-positioning-system.pdf
- MSP Command Center – Very similar to cnMaestro MSP but for the Xirrus Cloud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhD63Oxvv2w
The idea that cnPilot could inherit some of these great features really is quite an exciting prospect.
Xirrus have their own range of APs and many overlap with the current cnPilot range of APs. One clear differentiator is the use of multiple radios within some APs. All cnPilot e-series APs have 2 radios (one fixed at 2.4GHz and another fixed at 5GHz). Xirrus APs have up to 4 radios and some of these radios are software programmable between 2.4GHz and 5GHz. There are arguments in the WLAN community to whether this is good from an RF perspective or not, I’ll leave that discussion for another post. But these devices from Xirrus are marketed as high density APs.
Another interesting use for these extra radios is to dedicate the use of a radio as a full time WIDS/WIPS. The Xirrus WIPS system is quite advanced and is a real selling point for Xirrus.
In comparison here are the configuration options for both cnPilot and Xirrus:
Commercial / Channel
When I talk about the channel model I’m referring to the distributors and resellers that makeup the channel. Both Xirrus and Cambium sell to local distributors who in turn sell to resellers (it’s a very common model for Enterprise AP vendors) so I don’t think we can expect any change there.
I’m sure many distributors and resellers work with Riverbed (Xirrus previous owners) for their SD-WAN solution and Xirrus came along for the ride. Now that Xirrus is no longer of part of Riverbed I’d speculate that some of the channel will move away from Xirrus. For others selling Xirrus as major focus (rather than Riverbed’s SD-WAN solution) they’ll start to develop relationships with Cambium and could potentially benefit from introducing complimentary solutions like ePMP and cnMatrix.
Over the last 2 years I’ve personally seen cnPilot grow within the channel at a rapid yet healthy rate. I think it would be unwise for Cambium to try and flood their existing channel with the Xirrus channel or vice versa. This would no doubt cause conflicts and I’m sure Cambium won’t want to risk upsetting their current customer base. I’m sure this will open both doors for both channels but I don’t think it will be a free for all.
Xirrus is probably a better known Wi-Fi brand than cnPilot, this acquisition certainly gives Cambium / cnPilot some more exposure in the industry which is only a good thing.
Cambium currently has a lot of options when it comes to Xirrus and it’s easy to see why they have made the acquisition (even if we don’t know their exact plans). This is a good move for Cambium in my opinion and I’m excited for what the future might hold!