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Futzing the Protocol

Nearpoints
Nearpoints
Nearpoints
11/28/2006
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5:30 PM -- If you’ve not been following this, a recent article in Network Computing is raising a question as to whether Meru Networks Inc. is altering a field in the 802.11 header, the result giving them a performance advantage at the expense of other nearby WiFi networks. As I write this, there is no resolution to this issue. Is it really an issue? Is it just a bug? Is it a violation of 802.11 in some way? Hmmm.

While most of the people I’ve spoken with are adamant that Meru has violated both the 802.11 standard and the WiFi spec (I doubt the latter, but I’m checking), I’m going to reserve judgment for the moment, and we should most certainly give Meru the benefit of the doubt until all of this is resolved. It’s certainly possible that a given enterprise, for example, might operate a Meru-only environment, and this problem, if it is one, would never really show up. There’s certainly no violation of FCC or other regulatory rules. But there’s a more important issue afoot here.

If one really wants to boost one’s access to the airwaves, why not just use 802.11e, AKA WMM? Just set your priority to high for everything, and, voila, really great throughput until everyone else does the same thing. So, one of the key benefits of .11, playing nicely with other WLANs, is also a source of potential trouble down the road.

I personally find it hard to believe that any vendor would be so dumb as to intentionally fudge the protocol, since it’s so easy to prove this should it be the case. But stay tuned -- there will be more on this issue shortly. In the meantime, monitor those airwaves.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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maynard41
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maynard41,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:11:00 PM
re: Futzing the Protocol
Presient - It looks like you are a serious Meru hater - bringing up Ravi Sethi!! What is up with that? This has absolutely nothing to do with the Meru product but it seems as if you are taking this opportunity to take cheap shots at former managment. I am guessing you were fired so harbor some serious anger! Hmmmmm I wondering if you know who you are......
CleanSheet
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CleanSheet,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:10:56 PM
re: Futzing the Protocol
Their sales VP is out and not a couple weeks after the departure of their Marketing VP, hired barely a year ago and announced with much fanfare. Meru's spin is to wrap all this with an announcement about the hiring of a new VP for field operations.

Wonder if the new hire knew of Meru's futile attempts to hire a VP-Eng and a CFO. Or about the resumes of current and former Meru employees, especially engineers circulating around the Valley.

Those intrigued about Maynard's recent posts on Meru might want to read up on the previous thread around Meru's compliance with protocols. The gist is that Meru claimed a "secret sauce" on par with Coca Cola to explain their performance advantage over Cisco and others, touted the results while attempting to squelch analysis of how they got there, and eventually were found out to have CHEATED. And in the process, a lot of other dirt connected with the company, its founders and former management and their shenanigans, and the revolving door of executives and "leadership" came out.

Maynard, since you acknowledge my previous posts contain many "half-truths" could you please enlighten us on which of the many points I made are true and which are misleading? I'm eager to go toe to toe on this. Meru's competitors, investors, board, current and future employees would like to be enlightened on this as well.
maynard41
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maynard41,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:10:55 PM
re: Futzing the Protocol
Prescient - as I stated in my previous post - you bringing up Ravi Sethi in your Meru discussion totally discredits you. He has nothing to do with the Meru product so why keep bringing up history? Where does this deep hatred for Meru come from?
CleanSheet
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CleanSheet,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:10:53 PM
re: Futzing the Protocol
People doing business with a company, or considering doing business with it, are usually interested in the product, the quality of the team behind the company, the company's history, and so on. So why is Maynard demanding that when it comes to Meru we ignore everything else and focus on just the product? Isn't it enough that the product has been conclusively found to have problems interoperating with others, cheated on protocols, and the market and customers have spoken conclusively by rejecting it (to this day, Mery hasn't been able to provide a reference to a middle or large sized enterprise customer.)

As for company history, the people behind the company, their reputation and credibility and trustworthiness and such, why, there's a lot covered in prior postings and threads in this forum and elsewhere. Meru's founders now don't even mention their prior association with Meru since the investors, on finding they were lied to, misled and misrepresented, promptly fired the founders. All this and more, as revealed by the prior postings and threads in this forum, explain the revolving door at Meru.

Very useful information for anyone wanting to work with Meru, buy from them, or invest in them, or compete with them.
lrmobile_strungup
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lrmobile_strungup,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:10:52 PM
re: Futzing the Protocol
If past is any indication, Unstrung is hardly the place for spirited technical discussion. Sad to say but the gossiping is what keeps this place interesting.
peanutoat07
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peanutoat07,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:10:52 PM
re: Futzing the Protocol
Howdy all,

"Prescient", sir, let me speak directly to you. It's my job, and the job of a whole lot of folks that look to as many services as they can to help understand the complex world of wireless, to go around helping good people pick wireless products to install. We look for white papers, articles, books, webinars, and yes, blogs and message boards, for information about which product might be best for which situation. Those folks who are serious about this know that there is no one right answer for everyone, and we work our darnest to find out what will at least solve our customers' problems.

If you have something to say about whether a product supports a certain feature, or if you know that a new technology is coming that we all had better learn up on, then please speak your mind. But if all you got to say is that you don't like the employees of one company or another, then shut your mouth and move on. I don't care, and I bet most other people don't either. You and some other folks may get your kicks gossipping about the industry, and gosh, if I worked at one of those companies, I'd probably get my kicks off of rumors too. But there's a real world out here, and in that world, people pick products on the basis of what works for them or not.

I don't know who all of Meru's customers are. I don't know who anyone's customers are, really, and I don't care. If anyone on this board really does care about this, then say so, and I've had my piece.

But, folks, if you get tired of rumormongering like this fellow here, then let's talk about something else for a change. I want to know about 802.11n, or mesh, or whether there is any new security concerns I ought to be thinking about. I couldn't care less about who works for any of these companies.
lrmobile_justme
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lrmobile_justme,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:10:48 PM
re: Futzing the Protocol
I for one want to hear all the gossip and chatter. This is one of the only public forums where things can get pretty heated and you can learn a lot. Hopefully we are all knowledgeable enough to cut through the c___ and research all accusations.
respondvibratefeedbackresonate
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respondvibratefeedbackresonate,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:05:45 PM
re: Futzing the Protocol
Lots of talk about Meru over during 2006 and early 2007. Precient seems to be the most vocal about the company itself primarily due to the management team.

They seemed to have turned things around with some customer wins around "n" and some management additions. I also hear that the morale is quite good over there along with moving into a new office.

Precient, what's your analysis? Are they turning things around after purging UK and crew? Or are you still down on them?

lrmobile_GTHill
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lrmobile_GTHill,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:49 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol
To add some detail here, some in the Wi-Fi community believe that Meru is manipulating the NAV timer against the standards. They could also be adjusting the contention window to improve performance, much like WMM does.

So, are they doing anything against the standards to "hog" the wireless medium? Run this test to find out.

Install a Meru AP in a lab environment on channel 1.

Install a BrandX AP in the same room on channel 1.

These two AP's must be in RF range of each other. Both the Meru controller and the BrandX AP should be connected to the same wired switch. Connect an FTP server to the wired switch.

Now, set up two laptops. One associated with the Meru, and the other with BrandX. Now, on the same two laptops (doesnGÇÖt have to be the same laptops), set up a packet capture program such as OmniPeek. One laptop will be filtering for one conversation and the other laptop the other.

On each laptop, start a capture. Then, begin an FTP download from the server to each laptop. Let it run for a while, maybe 2 minutes.

The results:
If Meru is manipulating the 802.11 standards in any way, the Meru associated laptop will have received more packets from the FTP server than the other connection. If the Meru connected laptop doesn't get more packets, then the NAV timer and/or the contention window is not being affected.
lrmobile_GTHill
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lrmobile_GTHill,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:33:46 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol
Disregard my previous post on the test. I just realized that the test I described was listed in the "duration, duration, duration" article.

Given that the testers found that the duration value was being manipulated tells me that Meru is fudging the protocol.

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