Wireless has always had somewhat of a vendor lock-in nature. You buy APs from a vendor, you are likely stuck buying their controller, cloud management, etc. And if their system doesn’t grow with you, continue to meet your needs or becomes a giant bug model where you just spend all day QAing someone’s code in production, it generally requires a forklift upgrade to another vendor's system.
The challenge here is having that other vendor’s software tied to their hardware platform, necessitating the need to forklift. The sad part of this with access points is the hardware for APs are probably 90% the same. They likely come from Broadcom, or QCA, and are all based around the same basic technology.
So if the APs are 90% the same, what differentiates them today? Software. Controller software, management software, cloud software. Sure, there are those who put a lot of effort into hardware, and I’m sure they get returns on those investments. But for main stream wireless access, the value really comes down to the software.
I think the part that excites me most about the Mojo Networks presentation at MFD2 is taking this open hardware approach from the Open Compute Project and bringing wireless into this community and what that does to the industry as a whole. It’s a long game for sure, but I predict that it will force manufactures to derive value from their software instead of it being the cost of continuing to sell hardware. And if customers aren’t seeing the value from the software vendor, they can choose to migrate to another vendors software with existing hardware. Large customers might even develop their own software to run their access points. Facebook has gone down this path, and Open Compute was born out of it.
The message was loud at MFD2: wireless access is not enough. You have to do more to show value. And I look at what Mojo Networks is doing around open hardware as step in the right direction. Sure, they could focus their engineering efforts on putting more radios in the box, more CPU, more antennas, etc and try to derive that 70% of margin. The open session for me set the stage for the rest of their presentation extremely well: Mojo Networks Mission with Rick Wilmer
But helping drive these standards lets them focus on areas where they can differentiate: Their cloud management, machine learning and wireless security. The rest of their presentations were around their software platform, and what they are leveraging their cloud based systems to achieve. Circular packet capture was a hot topic at MFD2, and the ability to collect a packet capture from a problematic client without having to recreate the issue will be huge for the operation of networks long term.
The rest of the Mojo Networks #MFD2 Presentations
Sure this is just my opinion, and I’ve been out in left field before. Read what my good friend and secret agent Lee Badman had to say on the matter in: Mojo Networks Touts Lower Networking Costs, No More Vendor Lock-in at Mobility Field Day 2
As a side note, I’m really excited what this could mean for startups and other solutions. Monitoring systems, sensor, etc could benefit from having hardware standards that they could quickly leverage. I’ve done Wi-Fi scanning, packet capture, etc on raspberry pis, intel NUCs and more, but if I had access to enterprise grade Wi-Fi hardware at a reasonable price, it would make those hobbies much quicker and easier to get started in.
Disclaimer: Mojo Networks has provided me with a C-110 and C-130 series access point and cloud management as part of my involvement in MFD2. Opinions expressed are my own and not solicited by Mojo Networks.