Meru Takes New Approach to Troubleshooting

Meru Networks CTO, Dr. Vaduvur Bharghavan, says his company designed its network architecture “from ‘day one’ to provide two things—a user experience that matches wire and data that matches wires.” With the announcement last week of its new Meru Networks Service Assurance Manager (SAM) platform, Bharghavan says the company continues to deliver on its promise to enable an all-wireless enterprise that delivers on both price and performance.

Meru’s SAM is designed to reduce the operational costs of an enterprise WLAN in much the same way preventive care seeks to reduce health care costs—by being proactive.

“As the underlying system has facilitated the use of all applications, particularly in segments where the population is inherently mobile, such as education and health care, and with the convenience and capability of wireless, more and more customers have migrated to Wi-Fi for their primary business network,” says Bharghavan. “Our approach enables enterprises to enhance end-user experience by detecting potential performance problems for business critical applications before users encounter them, leading to significant lowering of operating costs, higher productivity for end-users, and greater ROI for application and infrastructure investments.”

Aimed at IT departments, SAM is designed to help ensure the successful deployment of new business-critical applications for voice, video, and/or data over Wi-Fi networks by measuring and validating that the performance characteristics of the end-to-end network meet the application needs before the application has to run on it. It also helps enterprises to ensure continuous network availability and performance levels, and can detect and notify IT staff of network issues proactively—before users actually experience any network issues, a capability that is especially vital in the medical vertical.

“If there’s a nurse in a hospital trying to make a call [over the Wi-Fi network], it’s a life and death situation,” says Bharghavan. “You can’t deploy a network that waits. By using a product like our assurance module, even when no clients are on the network, we’re putting traffic on the network, just like how it would behave when clients do come on the network. Because we’re putting traffic, the packet is going to all these different things, to study the behavior of the packet. This way, we can check that all APs are always in working order.”

Dr. Bharghavan describes the system as utilizing Meru’s single-channel architecture, which allows all network APs to operate on the same channel, in order to behave like a “neighborhood watch”—or, even more simply, like a dial tone.

“If there is an outage, you have to find out before clients come on,” he says. “When AT&T provides telephony, it provides a dial tone; what we want to provide is the equivalent of a dial tone. If you don’t hear a dial tone, you can’t make a call.”

Meru Networks E(z)RF Service Assurance Manager (SAM) is now shipping. More details are available from Meru at the company blog.

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