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Interview: Shane Buckley, president and CEO of Xirrus

This is a good time for the channel to be pitching wireless networking according to the boss of Xirrus

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: MicroScope: MicroScope: April 2016

Wireless is in strong demand and even those customers that have been using the technology for a while are likely to be in need of a refresh as users put more strain on the network.

For the president and CEO of Xirrus Shane Buckley it is a time to educate customers about what is available, arm channel partners with the tools they need to deliver solid infrastructure and for users to be able to get access to more enjoyable Wi-Fi experiences.

"It is a great time to be in Wi-Fi that's for sure. If you look at the trends in mobility in 2015 there were 5bn Wi-Fi devices connected worldwide. By 2020 that will be 25bn devices, a 5x increase. It took us 16 years to connect 5bn devices but it will take 5 years to connect 25bn devices," he says.

The usage pattern has also changed and the amount of video and multiple voice calling applications that are now being used has shot up putting an ever greater strain on corporate Wi-Fi and public hotspots.

Add to that the growing use of cloud applications that are becoming more prevalent in the workplace and existing technology is coming under strain.

"Those are great applications for the consumer but it creates a huge tax on the network. Wi-Fi is 16 years old this year and up to the last four or five years it was all about connectivity and coverage. Now it is about performance," adds Buckley.

"82% of people are saying that bad Wi-Fi is preventing them from doing their job in places like hotels, cafes, airports and bus stations," he says.

Performance matters

For most customers the Wi-Fi was seen as an overlay network that helped provide some access for those users that were using mobile devices. It was not seen as the primary point of connectivity. Those aging Wi-Fi installations are not in a position to deliver the performance expected by current users.

As well as delivering high performance the wireless network should also be secure and the idea of data integrity is one worrying a lot of users.

"76% of people say that public Wi-Fi is not secure yet 62% use it anyway because they have no choice. So on top of delivering on the performance requirements we also have to be able to deliver security. We are seeing more and more of the threat vectors going up in terms of devices being targeted for attack. So the ability to very simply but securely connect people to Wi-Fi networks is important," he adds.

Keeping it SAFE

Xirrus wants its partners and customers to remember that using its products make wifi safe:

S- Sacalable so the solution does not run out of horsepower
A- Application control to ensure that important tasks are given the necessary bandwitdh
F- future proofing with the option to swap in latest models to protect the initial investment
E - Ease of use so that users can get to grips with the technology

The need for performance and security is only going to increase as a result of the growing number of devices that will connect to the network as a result of the Internet of Things trend.

"The future of our industry is about IoT, and by 2020, 41% of all devices will be IoT based devices," but Buckley points out that a lot of those devices, like smart watches, do not connect easily and it is up to the Wi-Fi vendors to make that easier.

"As providers of infrastructure if Wi-Fi is going to take the place of the traditional network it has to have the same level of simplicity," he adds "The device manufacturers are making the assumption that Wi-Fi  is the physical access layer."

"The biggest challenge we have in our industry is that the device manufacturers and the application providers who work with them have already pushed the technology out onto the handsets so it is there. Now you have the challenge that the carriers in response to that have built out these networks like LTE speeds, which are pretty good, but you are being charged for every bit of data you send

If these wireless networks don't keep up with the maximum performance that is provided by these handsets and tablets then it is going to be a problem.

Vertical opportunities

As a result those verticals that depend on providing customers with a decent wireless experience, hotels and hospitality is a good example, are starting to become good markets for those able to deliver the latest technology.

"Wireless can work you just have to buy the same products. A horse and a cow on a hill look the same from a distance, they both have four legs and a head, but put a saddle on a cow and it is not going to win the Derby," he adds "If wireless is deployed properly then you can get a very good experience."

From a channel perspective Buckley feels that there is a real opportunity going out with a message about having the right infrastructure.

"Wireless is not new and almost every customer has something but it hasn't performed very well so they are not very please. So just taking the same architecture with a different logo and putting that on the ceiling for 18 months isn't going to make that much of a difference," he says.

"The customer has a fundamental problem that they need to connect users wirelessly no matter where they are in the building, how many of them turn up or what application they use. It has to be like a utility and available and the infrastructure has to be strong enough to cope with user demand" he adds.

Although wireless technology is a known quantity the chance to pitch something different is something that Buckley hopes will appeal to resellers.

"The role of the channel is to say that there is another solution and you don't have to go with the vendors that have disappointed you," he says.

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