Mist, the Wi-Fi startup founded by former Cisco executives in 2014, announced several additions to its WLAN platform, including two new access points.
Mist prides itself in having been formed using modern cloud-based technology—as opposed to technology built before the iPhone. The company says it’s the first to apply a microservices architecture and machine learning to the wireless mobile experience, allowing real time-analysis. Competitors include the likes of HP’s Aruba, Brocade’s Ruckus Wireless and Meraki.
“We’re shepherding in the new wireless architecture that’s all cloud-based,” serving small and medium businesses and also larger enterprises, according to Jeff Aaron, vice president of marketing at Mist. In fact, the company has amassed some 200 customers after coming out of stealth mode last year.
Mist introduced the WxLAN concept a year ago and now it’s introducing its Personal WLAN, also patent-pending. Traditionally, the only way to segment groups of wireless users and provide secure access to shared resources that don’t support 802.1x was to create unique preshared key SSIDs for every group. Mist is ditching that model with Personal WLAN technology that allows for secure onboarding and segmentation of multiple user or device groups on a single common SSID using personalized preshared keys across all access points. Users can create their own private keys that can then be applied to the devices of their choosing and shared within a controlled group.
The technology can be applied in multiple settings, including hotels or dormitories. Sudheer Matta, vice president of products at Mist, explained that the company had been working with a few very large hospitality vendors and they pointed out that more people were showing up at their facilities with Chromecast and Apple TVs than ever before. They complained that "they either see everybody’s Chromecast or they see nobody’s Chromecast," he said. The Personal WLAN offers a way for guests at hotels, for example, to share content with each other without exposing it to everybody else.
Mist says it’s the first WLAN platform that makes Wi-Fi predictable, reliable and measurable. It also offers the Mist learning WLAN, which IT administrators can use to set, monitor and enforce Service Level Expectations (SLE) for both preconnection and postconnection metrics. The SLEs can be monitored in real time and tracked over a period of time to provide ongoing insight into the operational health of the Wi-Fi network.
As for the access points, new to the Mist family are the AP21, which is available now and offers a converged Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) setup. It supports 802.11ac 2x2 Gigabit Wi-Fi for dual-band data services (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) and a directional 16-element BLE antenna array that supports Mist’s vBLE location services.
The AP61, available in the third quarter, is an outdoor access point that converges 802.11ac Wave 2 4x4 Gigabit Wi-Fi with a directional 16-element BLE antenna array that supports Mist’s vBLE location services.
Mist has been on a roll lately with its announcements, including a strategic partnership with Japan’s NTT DoCoMo Ventures where the two companies are working together on new artifical intelligence-driven initiatives that simplify Wi-Fi operations and bring high-accuracy location to enterprise environments. Aaron said the company isn’t actively pursuing other operators, but it is possible that Mist could develop relationships with others as well.