Wireless access is vital to get the Cloud market moving

Date: Fri, 12/09/2011 - 15:29

“Sean Larner, VP, Xirrus is 'In the Hot Seat ' while Manek Dubash , Editorial Director, NetEvents TV says "Hey, Hey, You, You, Get Offa My Cloud!"
Wireless access is vital to get the Cloud market moving

Sean Larner, VP, Xirrus, at NetEvents EMEA Press and Analyst Summit Rome 2011

PHOTO / telecomkh.com

Manek Dubash says it's time to clean up this Cloud Bandwagon: "It's as bad as the late 90s, when every company – from car manufacturer to washing powder vendor – was shouting 'dotcom' in order to grab a spot of credibility. And now the buzzword just happens to be Cloud". And he has collected some fine examples of Cloud-abuse to make his point…
Uh-oh! Bad move, Manek! Because one of his examples happens to be the website of wireless network pioneers Xirrus. "So – what's wireless networking got to do with Cloud computing?" says Manek.

But Xirrus insists that boosting wireless access is vital to get the Cloud market moving. The initial demand for Cloud services will be largely driven by the surge in very thin, highly mobile devices entering the enterprise, both through official channels and unofficial ones like BYOD.
"No way" says Manek – wireless just doesn't have the coverage, density and bandwidth to deliver realistic Cloud services to so many devices and applications.
But Xirrus argues for an alternative approach to wi-fi that can do all this and more. Organizations won't just provide Cloud coverage to meet the inevitable spread of mobile devices, they'll actively encourage a broad migration from wired to wireless as a way to boost productivity.
Is this the true future of the Cloud, as an omnipresent wireless service? Can wireless technology meet the challenge, or will the Cloud's real potential only be reached via wire? Following Manek's Q&A NetEvents EMEA Press Summit Rome 2011 invited to express the opinions from the floor.

Manek Dubash
You may not know Xirrus but they are a wireless company, they've been around a while now. I'm going to switch to this mike, so hopefully -- there we go the AV works. And, well you do enterprise wireless essentially as I understand it, so the first question I have for you is what on earth is a wireless company here doing talking about Cloud?

Sean Larner
We believe that the Cloud as it's been described today in a variety of different sources is really this ethereal thing that's still got to prove itself as a true value-added option to so many of the customers out there. But to allow the Cloud to enable itself effectively you have to have a delivery mechanism for that. So we touched upon earlier, I think [Mathias] said in his presentation or in the talk that he's on the top floor he's getting no wireless at all, I can't get wireless in the room to do the --

Manek Dubash
Same here.

Sean Larner
You know the access for the [poll]. So we believe that there is a tipping point now with wireless and application delivery, and therefore we are here to talk about the enablement of the Cloud using wireless.

Manek Dubash
Okay. So, all the same we were discussing this last night and we were discussing it this morning, and I still have this sort of disconnect in my head when it comes to talking about wireless and the Cloud because for me Cloud is about infrastructure, its about flexible delivery and all those things. Why do I care what kind of wireless I'm using for the last 100 yards or whatever it is which is how I think about it?

Sean Larner
Okay. The last 100 yards is where we have this disconnect, I completely disagree. I think we provide -- we as a vendor provide so much more value by giving you the capability to deliver the applications in a very consistent way. So the example I always cite for this is we are very, very strong in the healthcare and the education marketplace.
And we are very strong in those marketplaces for specific reasons. You can't constantly wire hospitals. You can't keep putting lots of cable around hospitals.
There are numerous machines life support machines ECG machines that just will tend to have issues with lots of wires around an organisation like that.
And in education you can't expect every kid in the classroom to plug his PC into, or laptop into a network. So your grandchildren, my grandchildren will never ever, ever see a blue cable going into the side of a machine because those machines won't exist.
The kids of today the natives of today as opposed to the immigrants as we are will see wireless as just the natural way of doing things. They won't expect it to do any differently.
So you have these concepts that we see replicated time and time and time again in those industries, but also more importantly now in the enterprise space with the bring your device that we are beginning to see take shape now.

Manek Dubash
We are beginning to see, but as we've talked about already today this morning about just how much of a hype there is still around Cloud and how the hype cycle has reached its peak and we are now heading towards it, was it the trough of despond is it?
I can't remember what they called it.

Sean Larner
The depths of despair.

Manek Dubash
That's the one yes, basically isn’t it a bit dangerous to start branding your stuff with Cloud at this stage?

Sean Larner
I think we, as every single vendor in the marketplace today, have Cloud somewhere in the definition of what the company is delivering. For us the delivery of a service over the Cloud is really just to ensure that you're getting a consistent fully malleable solution being able to be delivered. So whether that's the Cloud or whether its just delivered in the traditional manner for us it shouldn’t make too much difference, but Cloud is the topic that people are talking about and we have to be capable and prepared to have those conversations and prove our worth in that market space.

Manek Dubash
Are there other vendors, your competitors are they talking about Cloud?

Sean Larner
Aruba talk about Cloud, Cisco talk about Cloud of course, so they would be having similar conversations to us. The difference between the vendors that speak about Cloud and that can deliver over Cloud I think are markedly different. So we do have a number of customers that use us as a real Cloud delivery vehicle. So if you take, again, healthcare as an example there are applications in healthcare that are delivered over the Cloud that with -- the clinicians will use iPads to deal with their patients today.

Manek Dubash
So there is evidence that this phenomenon is going that the Cloud wireless if you like is going beyond the executive suite which is probably how most people would tend to characterize it.

Sean Larner
Yes. I see the world of the CIO or the world of the enterprise being very late enablers for Cloud for that very reason. There's all the issues they have around compliance, around security, but I see those consumers that have to get into that space being far more ready and able to do that today.

Manek Dubash
Right, well questions from the floor, anyone got questions from the floor? Mr.[Banforth] would you like to wait for a microphone to come heading in your direction which hopefully it will very soon. In the meantime I shall just sing shall I? No, maybe not. Hum maybe, no, no had a shower this morning I think I'm okay. Okay, microphone is heading in your direction. Thanks very much Mark. Here we go.

Rob Bamforth - Quocirca
Thanks. Hi. Totally buy into wireless access not a problem, enterprise, consumer, everywhere. The problem that I have is I guess a problem that a lot of us are facing here those who are providing the infrastructure don't often value it sufficiently to make it work properly. And I'd say that's true in enterprise as well as in public spaces.
What are you doing within your company to push that -- the value of the infrastructure message beyond just getting a couple of access points into somewhere to getting, what we might call blanket coverage, what sort of things are you doing?

Sean Larner
The -- I mean that's evidenced in here. This is a perfect example here the hotel, everywhere with the exception of reception. And when we talk about access points when we talk about the traditional two radio access points that sit out there from a NETGEAR or a Cisco or Aruba we don't believe that in a million years is ever going to provide the capability that consumers need. So our approach to that and the approach that we push with our customers is to increase the radio coverage.
So we provide something called an array. It's the size of a plate, looks like a spaceship, lovely flashing lights with eight radios as a minimum sitting in it, or four radios as a minimum sitting in there, eight radios to be modularly upgradable. That gives you with science and physics just so much more capability than the access points you're seeing today. So we by default have created something which is very different to the rest of the market.
And the encompassing pain that people have by not being able to access applications or the internet today is kind of just all pervasive. The more that we see devices coming online, and I should think every single person in this room must have at least two wireless devices on them today if not more, the more we see these coming online the more density that we see these things drawing from the wireless world, the more important it is to have a wireless capability to allow you to make the maximum use of those applications or those devices.

Manek Dubash
Wireless and the Cloud, questions.

Daniel Beazer - Tier1 Research
Hi there, Daniel Beazer, Tier1 Research here, you picked up something interesting that bring your own device to work movement, and I mean we are seeing this have a huge impact on the way IT is delivered across the enterprise. I just wondered, given there are a lot of service providers carriers here if you could talk to or give a few hints about what kind of services or applications service provider carriers could provide to the enterprise with the bring your own device movement and wireless proliferating (inaudible).

Sean Larner
If we address it on two levels, there is obviously the enterprise but the bring your own device is equally important for students and graduates today studying at university. In the UK now we have this £9,000 fee that's levied on students and so many students now are deciding and dictating which university they go to based upon the performance of the infrastructure or the wireless infrastructure in those universities.
In the enterprise on a slightly different plane we will see applications from virtually everyone. So if we look at a typical CRM application used in many companies today Salesforce.com, Cloud based application an application that you can pick up on any tablet device whether that's an iPad or an android application, those are the sorts of things that we see being proliferated through organisations today in the enterprise space.

Manek Dubash
Questions, Thierry, Thierry.

Unidentified Participant
I thought you were going to speak about security and how do you see this big mistake about access and what could be the main problem with security in the Cloud?

Sean Larner
The big issue with security in Cloud is something that everyone is facing today. We try and deal with that on several planes. We have obviously built into our technology device identification. We have a huge amount of policy management that we can build in within our arrays to allow the infrastructure folks that are managing that environment to know who is accessing their wireless network, what their accessing it on and what their looking at while their on there. So we can do security from an application point of view, a policy point of view. We are very well covered in that space.
I think the generic problem that we have in the Cloud is that with security being all pervasive and all consuming there are going to be times and there are going to be events when you can't secure the whole. It's almost an impossible thing to do. And you're not going to know you've got a security breach until the breach has taken place.
We, within our technology, allow you to secure your own wireless device and know what data is coming into that space, but outside of there I think it's just an issue that we are going to have to face as a group of technologists.

Manek Dubash
Yes, Tony, mic's on its way. While that's going is there anybody else who has got a question so we can line up the mike for the next one, Steve next after Tony.

Anthony Savaas
Anthony Savaas freelance journalist, England, I'm just as a wireless operator then do you think the sort of -- the difference between the talk about the private Cloud and the public Cloud is pretty meaningless. You've touched on it with the security question there. Because I get quite confused about what is the private Cloud and what is the public Cloud as well, considering it goes all over -- different directions. And then what we saw from Tata before about the route to traffic etc, do you think its becoming pretty meaningless now?

Sean Larner
We don't see it. We see a blurring between frankly. We don't see it as being two separate distinct areas that you've got to operate within. For us it makes very little difference as a provider of wireless.

Anthony Savaas
Thanks.

Manek Dubash
And to Steve now, and actually while the mikes on its way over, [Sean] can I ask what is -- do you see a growth, with the growth of Cloud do you see municipal wireless being more attractive? I know there was a sort of a brief flurry of municipal wireless in the mid-2000's and it -- a lot of those schemes didn’t really work very well.

Sean Larner
Their coming back, they are coming back. We are just being engaged on a large project in the Ukraine exactly doing that, two towns, or two cities, two major cities that want to completely spread hot spots across their environments. So we are beginning to see it come back. But in the UK yes there are more and more local authorities and councils, particularly in the North of England, that are starting to look at that as a revised project in that space now.

Manek Dubash
And what can we learn from the failed projects?

Sean Larner
We can learn a lot from looking at what's gone wrong with vendors like, dare I say Cisco, who have tried to do a huge amount of work with BT over the years. Poor coverage, very poor accessibility those are the sort of things that we've [learnt].

Manek Dubash
So there was technological not business model type issues?

Sean Larner
Technological issues rather than business efficiency issues yes.

Manek Dubash
Right okay, sorry Steve.

Jan Guldentops – BA Test Labs
Jan Guldentops, just a stupid question is your problem not that you're only a small part of the solution. Let's say we would have a series in here it wouldn’t work either because the outgoing pipe would be too limited.

Sean Larner
If the pipe is bad of course -- if the pipe is bad then it's like any garbage in, garbage out concept, if the pipe coming in is bad then you're not going to have the capability.
We do a lot better than this I can assure you on that. Even if the pipe is bad we'd still do it a lot better than this.
Jan Guldentops Yes, well okay but still you would not be -- you would have the problem that the whole system is not completely in your hands and you can not fix it.
And that's going to be the eternal problem with everything in Cloud. You have so many components in it that you just need to control it end to end and you just can't do that.

Sean Larner
If there is a weak network access coming into an organisation or a building or if the pipe is not sufficient then I think you're always going to struggle with that. But we are reaching a tipping point with the internet now where access within the web is becoming more and more and more confined. We are rapidly running out of space frankly. So I do see that as an issue of course, and I -- we contend with that by being able to work with organisations and companies that have the capability to bring a decent amount of data into the organisation that we can obviously operate with within a wireless basis.

Jan Guldentops
(Inaudible -- microphone inaccessible) sweet spot to service provider [on].

Sean Larner
You know something, we've just launched today the new release of our array, so we've moved from our XN product range to our XR product range and we'll spend some time hopefully discussing that with some people in the next couple of days. But there is a tipping point right now. Whether that is moving into the service provider space or staying in the enterprise space or staying in the space that we operate in, in public services, there will be some more announcements that we are making over the next three months that will encompass exactly things like service providers. That's a very good point.

Manek Dubash
Steve.

Steve Broadhead
Yes. So to continue this [again], so in that service provider space you are talking Cloud right?

Sean Larner
Yes.

Steve Broadhead
And so I am thinking public, and this is just a technology question. So why had Ethernet for example only actually worked once it became switched, so you got your guaranteed 10 meg and then 100 meg gig whatever. So I'm trying to get my head around this. So does this mean that I can come in with my laptop and you can allocate me a guaranteed amount of bandwidth that's not contended?

Sean Larner
The way that we generally provision our technology is if we were to do an event like this, assume this is a conference hall, what we would generally do is we'd come in, we survey the conference hall. We then define how many of our arrays you'd need to have in the conference hall, and then we would guarantee coverage for every single person in that room, guaranteed 100% coverage.
So we just did Dreamforce in the US where we had a ridiculous amount of people hitting the site at exactly the same time, hitting the Salesforce site at exactly the same time and downloading data on our wireless network.

Steve Broadhead
But its still coverage based rather than specific bandwidth per user [mail order]
bandwidth.

Sean Larner
No, its coverage based yes correct.

Manek Dubash
Okay, question here from James

James
I just wanted to ask about the amount of spectrum that's available to provide these kind of wireless services because this is, I think, been always my question about provision of wireless end points is that there is only X amount of wireless spectrum.
And you can keep doing the phone line thing where we started off with 300 board and even less than that, and eventually it's turned into DSL, and then SDSL and so on and so forth. But there is a limit, and even as we look at LTE their saying excitedly 400 meg, 400 meg for -- as long as there is only one person on it and then suddenly you start halving the amount of available capacity the more people you add.
What is -- is the amount of wireless spectrum always going to be able to deliver the amount of access that an end point wants? I mean we can -- you were dismissive of Ethernet but we can give a gig to everybody but you can't -- it's more difficult to do that in a wireless area. So what's your view of the long term evolution of that?

Sean Larner
The constant growth of the spectrum that wireless can operate within is changing obviously, so now with the digital switchover, for example, in the UK or the digital switch on and the analogue switch off in the UK that frees up more spectrum space for wireless providers to work within. And I think that's always going to be a growing challenge. But today we have no issues in that space. I don't think we see anything in the foreseeable future that will cause us to have any issues in that space.

Manek Dubash
Total optimism.

Sean Larner
I'm a vendor.

Manek Dubash
How do you sleep? One more question I think. If there are no more questions. If there are any, oh yes there is one from Mr [Tilley].

Phil Tilley
I mean I think one of the challenges we face and I guess with all the devices and certainly going -- if we are going to use the Cloud and be logged on how do we make it seamless? I mean what are the challenges we face if every time we go to somewhere new we go to go through a user name password, log on process which -- how is that hindrance -- hindering the deployment and sort of use or adoption of the WiFi sort of stuff, and what can we do to overcome that issue?

Sean Larner
Boy that's a real process and policy question. I don't think you're ever going to move away from people having SSIDs or having a log on and password for a wireless environment they go within. We can, within our -- with our arrays if your for example working within a hospital we can allow you through tunnelling to have your log on capability to the wireless system at home, in a remote office wherever you are, you'd operate in exactly the same way. So we can provide that capability, but I think that's on a case by case basis. So it depends upon the policies that the company wishes to employ. And this comes back to the security and the domain management of a wireless environment per-say.

Manek Dubash
So you don't see a greater use of [EPSEM] or something like that as a --?

Sean Larner
You know not right now, we are not seeing that and we are not coming across that today.

Manek Dubash
So, finally, final before we end the session [Sean] what's the future of wireless in the Cloud? There you go, think about it.

Sean Larner
No, I'm -- I still struggle with the Cloud not delivering what its supposed to have delivered to date, so our professed view about the future of wireless in the Cloud is we find it -- we found it wonderful when Google bought Motorola and when they bought their Unified Communications. We found it wonderful when Motorola sold off the rest of their wireless business to a venture company to go and do wonderful things with it.
Anything that sits in the Cloud, any application that sits in the Cloud, any application that sits in the Cloud and wants to be connected to or accessed to by a wireless device is our sweet spot and will only help to spread the word of wireless broader than it is today. So the density issues that we are seeing, the coverage issues that we are seeing, the amount of data that's being pushed up there has to be managed effectively and we think that wireless is the way to do that.

Manek Dubash
Okay. Sean Larner, thank you very much.

Sean Larner
Pleasure.

 

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