IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series: Meru President and CEO Ihab Abu-Hakima

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Meru's leader talks of company's 'symbiotic relationship' with Cisco and how to avoid 'Wi-Fi meltdowns'

Meru Networks claims to have been the first company to deliver an 802.11n access point and is now riding that technology's popularity as enterprises move increasingly to high-speed wireless networks. In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Meru President and CEO Ihab Abu-Hakima speaks with IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant about what sets Meru apart from bigger competitors with broader networking product lines such as Cisco and HP, as well as what needs to be done by enterprises to manage and secure networks being flooded by iPads, smartphones, and other devices.

What makes Meru unique?

Meru was founded based on a vision that sooner or later most enterprises will operate day to day in an all-wireless environment. For us, a wireless environment is a wired data center, a wired backbone but all wireless everything else, all wireless edge. As we looked forward to what an all-wireless enterprise would look like, we said it would have thousands or tens of thousands of devices, many of them operated by humans, others machine to machine, but they would all be mobile or stationary but working in a wireless environment. And we built an infrastructure from the ground up to support density and mobile or stationary voice, video or data applications. We built this with the end-user in mind. We wanted the end-user to have an interactive experience accessing the content that they needed or the applications that they needed to get their job done.

To go into a little bit more depth about that, talk about the virtualized wireless architecture. What do you mean and how is that different from the approach that your competitors take?

If you look at the architectures from competitors, like a Cisco, Aruba, or HP, they're what's called micro-cell. By micro-cell, each access point has to be placed on a different channel and you go through an exercise where you have to place the access points far enough away from each other that they don't interfere but not too far away that you have a gap in coverage. So it's an optimization exercise that you go through and you design a network to support a certain number of devices and density. As you add more devices to that type of a network, you need to add more capacity. To add more capacity, you have to add more access points. If you add more access points, you have to redesign a network because you have to bring access points closer together and shrink cell sizes so they stop interfering. In every case, adjacent access points are on different channels. But as you do that, you are introducing more contention for the same bandwidth between the access points.

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