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Carrier WiFi

Futzing the Protocol

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

CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:03 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Meru first challenges the Network Computing report. They dismiss the analysts competency and question their expertise. They then attempt to SUPPRESS the publication of the report. All this while they extract portions of the report that show them in good light and publish it on their web site.

Ouch! The current management is about to emulate the previous regime by winning the Gold medal for fraud and other rogue behavior!

Looking ahead, we can expect Meru to question Akin's interpretation of the protocol and even suggest he was paid by competitors to ding Meru. Unless investors pack off this regime as they did the previous.

What a good object lesson this has been for Meru's current and prospective employees, investors, and customers! Even while Meru is trying to fill the VP-Eng and CFO holes in the org employees are actively interviewing elsewhere...
meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:33:03 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Mojito's ! Good stuff...

mesh

lbknick123 12/5/2012 | 3:33:04 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Got this network computing newsletter via email today. This speaks for itself.

// Network Computing Mobile Observer Weekly Newsletter
\\ Your Mobile and Wireless Resource
// Powered by CENT
\\ networkcomputing.com/mobile
// Wednesday, December 6, 2006


In This Issue:
1) Air Time: Cisco vs. Meru: You Make the Call
2) Mobile & Wireless News, Opinion and Analysis
3) Mobile & Wireless Product Watch
4) @ NWC.COM
5) Resource Tools
6) Subscription Information

---------------------------------------------------------------
1) Air Time: Cisco vs. Meru: You Make the Call
---------------------------------------------------------------
By Dave Molta (mailto:[email protected])

The past three weeks have been quite a rollercoaster ride for my
co-author, Jameson Blandford, and me as we've dealt with feedback on our
November 9 Network Computing article entitled "The Meru Chronicles."
This article was the culmination of a six-month project involving the
analysis of WLAN gear from Meru Networks.

As the name of the article implies, what started as a relatively simple
effort to benchmark Meru against industry leader Cisco turned into a
technical and journalistic adventure that included surprising
performance findings, accusations by Cisco that Meru was violating
standards, efforts on Meru's part to suppress publication, public
responses to the article by Cisco and Meru, and lots of private and
public reaction from readers and industry insiders. We've continued to
search for better answers in this debate, and the final word hasn't yet
been written.

For those of you who haven't read the article, you can find it here:
networkcomputing.com/channels/...

The vendor responses that were added about two weeks after the initial
publication are available here:
networkcomputing.com/showArtic...

In addition to the previously published materials, we are making packet
capture files of our Good Neighbor tests available, along with a
detailed explanation of our test environment. We encourage wireless
protocol experts to download and analyze these files, which are
available at:
i.cmpnet.com/NetworkComputing/...

As we stated in our article, we found Cisco's allegations that Meru
wasn't playing by the rules of 802.11 to be credible. The source of the
allegations included one of the original 802.11 designers, and we didn't
find Meru's explanations of our test results to be satisfactory. We also
weren't swayed by Meru's repeated contention that Wi-Fi Alliance
Certification proves it is compliant with 802.11 standards. The Wi-Fi
Alliance does not certify that products are compliant with 802.11, only
that they successfully complete interoperability tests on the Alliance's
test-bed.

At the heart of the controversy is the issue of fair sharing of WLAN
spectrum when multiple APs (access points) coexist on the same radio
channel. This issue has surfaced over the years in various forms as the
802.11 standard has evolved. It's also a central issue in the delay
associated with the emergence of 802.11n, though in the case of 802.11n,
the issues are much different than what we were dealing with in our
tests of Meru and Cisco.

In our testing, we measured the performance of both Cisco and Meru
equipment on a simple WLAN consisting of two 802.11g clients and one
802.11b client. When two Cisco APs were co-located on the same channel,
one AP achieved aggregate throughput of 6.3 Mbps while the other
achieved throughput of 5.5 Mbps. The numbers weren't identical, but they
were close. On the other hand, when we ran a Cisco AP and a Meru AP on
the same channel with the identical client configuration and traffic
mix, Cisco's throughput dropped to 2.7 Mbps while Meru's was 8 Mbps.

According to Cisco, this provided proof that Meru equipment was
operating in a manner that unfairly suppressed Cisco's performance. Meru
asserted that it was doing nothing wrong; the results simply proved that
Meru's design was superior and that Cisco's implementation of 802.11 was
buggy.

Cisco's claim suggested that Meru was playing fast and loose with 802.11
rules, prioritizing its own traffic at the expense of Cisco's. Meru
vehemently denied it was doing anything outside the standards. After
hearing both sides of the argument, we rendered a somewhat tentative
verdict that Cisco's claims were credible; but we also stated that more
analysis was required.

As IT professionals and wireless product testers, we are knowledgeable
about how 802.11 operates. But the issues associated with this debate
are so complex and ambiguous that we weren't able to come to a
definitive conclusion by our publishing deadline. Because of this, we
did not accuse Meru of violating standards. Instead, we presented all of
the findings available to us as of our publication deadline, along with
a tentative judgment that Cisco's claims appeared to have some merit.
Ironically, while Meru was extremely upset about our article--calling
into question our competence and editorial objectivity--some of our
findings cast Meru in a positive light. In fact, the company has even
extracted some of our quotes and included them on its Web site.

Since the time of publication, we have shared our protocol traces with
Devin Akin, Chief Technology Officer at The CWNP Program, a company that
has developed the Wi-Fi industry's leading independent wireless
technical training and certification program. Akin is largely
responsible for the CWNP technical curriculum, making him a credible and
independent source of analysis. His preliminary analysis points to
unconventional behavior by Meru equipment and to at least one specific
violation of the standards (802.11ma-d9.0, section 7.2.1.2, which defines
CTS rules for non-QoS stations).

We'll continue to work with Akin and other protocol experts in an effort
to better inform our readers on this important issue. We invite you to
submit comments and, if appropriate, your own analysis.



CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:11 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Gowireless comes back after announcing his "last posting." He then rants about anonymous postings while hiding behind his own anonymity. He demands I identify myself while he chooses not to disclose his identity first. He sure seem very qualified to defend Meru.

Gowireless, you acknowledge I have quoted actual people's names and mentioned real people to substantiate my points. That's all in contrast to the zero evidence you have provided to support your point. I guess we aren't going to hear more about that eval program you mentioned.

All right, all right. What's stopping anyone from calling any of those parties I named to confirm what I've said about Meru's former and current management? What stopped Meru from answering questions from reviewers, prospective customers and employees clearly and fully, without evasion and deceit?...

'nuff said.
gowireless 12/5/2012 | 3:33:12 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Shut up? What are you, 10 years old? You shut up, or I'll tell Mom.

I've looked back through your postings and I can't find any facts. Just implications that since the founders left, they must be screwed. And you've slandered the founders without any backup, except referencing actual people's names, which is to bring real people into your anonymous ramblings.

I know, I know. Now you are going to rag on me, and repeat your allegations about the Meru people.

The review I had in mind when I regrettably lumped all experts together, was the Network World review, where Aruba was tested with all APs in faraday cages and PCF mode enabled. What's real world about that?

Oh, why do I bother?
CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:13 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Gowireless, I enumerated numerous people (all with extensive experience with Meru, its founders, past and current management) to talk to to confirm my statements re: Meru's people, diseased genetic history, and technical problems with its products. It seems those facts aren't sufficient for you and you continue to dispute what I've stated and demand more "facts." The onus is on you to provide the facts to support your disputations. If you can't do that may I suggest you shut up?

Similarly, provide the facts to support your dispute with numerous analysts, reviewers, and others. Or shut up.

And, identify yourself and the purportedly large organisation you work for that is to begin an evaluation for wifi equipment before you demand others identify themselves. Or shut up.
gowireless 12/5/2012 | 3:33:14 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol This is my last post on this topic. All I'm doing is helping Prescient state the same unsubstantiated drivel, over and over.

It goes without saying, but I'll say it: No one should lend any credibility to anyone that posts on an anonymous message board, and disparages people and products, and offers no proof.

Prescient says: "I've earned my credibility already wrt Meru's history. You are still at a zero on credibility."

Claiming credibility does not credibility make. Then attacking me makes total sense. I'm not looking for credibility, since I'm not trying to scare people with unverified statements.

I wouldn't be considering Meru if they had no large customers. I'll leave it as an exercise to the readers to look at all their success stories on their website. (I'm sure Prescient will claim they are lies, too.)

Meru clearly has an advantage by controlling the RF space. Why should they tell their competitors how they do it? If they are violating rules, it would be easy to sniff packets and see the violations. I plan to do that when their equipment arrives.

Prescient states: "If indeed you are about to begin an eval your employer would benefit from seeing other vendors in this industry participate as well."

As expected, you work for a Meru competitor. Therefore, you have no credibility when it comes to commenting on Meru. If you could be trusted, then you would say who you are, and give some facts with your attacks on people and products.

Over and out.

Go

mohanrbr 12/5/2012 | 3:33:14 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Splat,

Why do you say that Aruba cannot go public? They have more than 100 million in revenue and claim to be getting into profitability. Companies with less revenue have gone public recently

free_radio 12/5/2012 | 3:33:15 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol my view on this Meru company as an outsider is that its' fate will be the same like Vivato, the famous failed WLAN switch company.

Why? Because i believe it lies on the incapable management to guide the start-up company. It's not because of the company is not smart technically, but it is because the management is mostly newbie in business 101.

Airespace is a success because of Metricom people who taste a big business failure before. Aruba is being helped with the ex-Cisco executive and now the well-known Dominic Orr. Airgo is struggling but recently bought by QCOM because of Greg Raleigh' experience and many patents filed.

enough said .... nobody prevents you to evaluate Meru products but my gut feeling tells me that you will be wasting your company' time since I will put my money that Meru boxes will be sold at eBay next year, just like Vivato.
CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:15 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Gowireless, as it seems you misunderstand me so far let me attempt once again to say what I said but differently.

First, I believe my points about the Meru's past and current management are very relevant to this discussion. They confirm the flawed genetic history of this company. It may not matter to you but it sure will to some current and prospective customers, investors, and employees.

Second, my points about the flawed genetic history of this company remained unchallenged. I've earned my credibility already wrt Meru's history. You are still at a zero on credibility.

Third, many others--analysts, reviewers, including the market which has pointedly ignored Meru (proof: Meru has no large customers, tiny and dwindling market share, etc)--have questioned Meru's standards compliance. In this context you pop up and demand I prove what Meru has refused to answer (though given the opportunity many times) already. THE ONUS IS ON MERU TO STEP UP AND COME CLEAN. Meru's tactics to malign, blame, discredit those that raise these questions--including the new angle of wondering if there's any independent reviewer that understands what they are reviewing!--reminds me of that football player who got away with homicide because nobody could "prove" he did it.

Lastly, you asked who I work for. I'll be happy to answer that. First I'd like you to identify yourself and who you work for. If indeed you are about to begin an eval your employer would benefit from seeing other vendors in this industry participate as well. Or perhaps you are just someone in Meru's pay.
gowireless 12/5/2012 | 3:33:16 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Can someone that knows that Meru is in a world a hurt, please elaborate? I'm bringing them in for an evaluation, so I'm interested to know what you know.

If you can't come up with something, then I'll just assume that you work for competitors and you are trying to scare people away from a perceived threat. That's the biggest problem with these anonymous message boards.
gowireless 12/5/2012 | 3:33:16 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Prescient, I asked you for proof that Meru is violating protocol standards, and you replied that other "analysts and independent reviews" are your source of imformation? Show me an "independent" reviewer that understands what they are reviewing, then show me the proof that standards have been violated.

Then you go back to the FUD of founder bashing. That's exactly what competitors do to a startup, when they have nothing else to stand on.

Why don't you tell us who you work for, so we can all see that you are just trying to scare people away from a competitor?
Star Man 12/5/2012 | 3:33:17 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Meru and Trapeze as companies are not worth arguing about both are in a world of hurt.

As for Aruba, I can't see how a WLAN company can go public. Certainly Aruba might be a good company for a larger networking company to purchase. However I have a difficult time seeing a likley purchaser given the price Aruba desires.
free_radio 12/5/2012 | 3:33:18 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol ladies and gentlemen: Meru, Trapeze, etc. will close down its shop if they couldn't find the buyer unlike Airespace (CSCO) and Airgo Networks (QCOM). Meru and its GOLD club members will be in the same situation like Vivato, going bankrupt and start to have the liquidation firesale. That is why Meru starts shouting a little bit louder to the press since they knew the time will come.

Aruba probably will survive if it's being merged with Ruckus under the leadership of Dominic Orr. If he packaged the 2 companies into one entity, maybe Juniper or Motorola is interested to acquire for the war chest against Cisco.
CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:18 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Meru or a Meru proxy claimed in a posting that their secret sauce wasn't patented and was instead a "trade secret", a "secret sauce" and likened it to Coca Cola's secret recipe. My response was that secret sauces apply to corner stores selling falafels. To Coca Cola too, I grant that. Unlike Meru neither that corner store nor Coca Cola have to comply with industry standards, network protocols, and interoperate with others.

As for the other two questions, aren't there enough analysts and independent reviews that have already raised those issues and Meru found wanting in their response?

What's funny is that you pick these points instead of the innumerable others about Ujjal Kohli's and Nick Mitsakos's business activities and scandalous reputation. What you pick and what you ignored say it all.

Gowireless, do you need to be reminded not to pick things out of context? Perhaps your time would be better spent advising Meru not to compare itself to a Coca Cola. The grandiosity and pomposity of that amuses greatly. Isn't there enough megalomania already in Meru starting with its famed "founders"?
gowireless 12/5/2012 | 3:33:18 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Prescient,

Here's a statement that you made earlier:

"They don't have to comply with protocols, standards, inter-operability, and such expected in the networking industry."

and at another time:

"their standards compliance questionable"

and at another time:

"It is likely that secret sauce is more likeky a protocol violation than any worthy intellectual property. "

Now give me some proof. I see they were verified by the WiFi Alliance again recently. Are you saying that that organization should be ignored?

Just because their APs work better than yours, doesn't mean you have to resort to bashing their people and product.

Go

CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:18 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Gowireless, which part of which of my messages do you consider FUD? Please point them out and I'll be happy to provide information to corroborate, substantiate, and confirm what I've said earlier about Meru. All with irrefutable facts.

It appears Meru and/or its proxies in this forum really want to see their dirty laundry put out for public scrutiny here and elsewhere. Could that be true?
gowireless 12/5/2012 | 3:33:18 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Wow!

Seems to be the classic fight or flight reaction from some scared people. Most of you obviously work for competitors that feel threatened by Meru.

When I read the NWC article, I see results that show me a superior product that's actually trying to manage the RF space. I'm definitely including Meru in my new WiFi evaluation. Let the chips fall where they may.

Prescient, keep the FUD flowing. I haven't had such great laughs in a long time.
Ibor 12/5/2012 | 3:33:19 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol I am new to this discussion, but Meru does not seem worth any time. No real business.

Trapeze has residual value for the OEMs I believe. They have some mid-size and sme penetration. But they are clearly hostage to Nortel. I cannot imaging an IPO although they are openly searching for a VP Americas and saying they anticipate a Q1 or Q2 filing. I don't get it.

Aruba and Cisco/Airespace seem very serious companies in the mobility space. Their products are very differentiated; its nice to have a choice.

Ibor

OpticOm 12/5/2012 | 3:33:20 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Meru's culture was the most dishonest I have ever seen in my long career (and I have seen many...).
The company was run like a clan.
And, by the way, UK and NM were not the only responsible.
I would add VB, still inside...
lrmobile_strungup 12/5/2012 | 3:33:21 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Sounded like a mess of ramblings from mesh, but I want some of what he's drinking! Sounds like a real good time.
Ibor 12/5/2012 | 3:33:22 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Mesh,

Can you help me understand your statements on Aruba? Who are the kids from Ohio? Who did the Arubans underestimate?

Also, what innovation did Trapeze steal? Didn't Netscreen jump into an existing market (stealing innovation) with straightforward enhancements and do well.

I am neutral toward all these companies, but I'm trying to understand what's underneath your thoughts.

Ibor
meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:33:23 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Team,

Sit back and chill on these arguments...not really into the Meru, Cisco , Aruba things these days but I must say that the team that everyone emulates (attitude, execution, practices is the Airespace team). That book was written on Nortech Drive and more than two years later folks are still getting their asses kicked by Airespace 101. This is too funny!


Give it up, the originals are always that, original! Airespace folks are ruthless, over - the - top, balls in a wheelbarrel type of folks! Dude, I tried to help Aruba out and did but it just ain't gonna happen! Can walk on water but can't raise the dead!

Look, the mission now is to get some equity out of the remaining wifi switch startups! My assessment:

1) Trapeze - no love for ya'. Anytime you steal an innovators idea and try to use it angainst them you are DOOMED! Everybody is gonna' get the G2 and totally hate ya'!

2) Aruba - founders ---too young, but pioneering. Arrogance and culture got to ya'. Little kids from Ohio will sit in a lab and totally destroy your architecture and ego because of an elevator conversation. This is real... and you underestimated the intelligence of people without something that you recognize....for whatever reason. VC's just need to snag it bag it. Everyone that I see popping up from there these days are either people that were destroyed or displaced from the early days....


3) Airespace folks --- much love and hate for ya'. But, you were the ones that were over the top. You deserve it and I would not have a beer with you in a bar because you are ruthless (smile). Now, for those of you that are ready to roll out of Cisco, or Aruba my advice is to dig deep and hard. Stay together and roll as a team. You really don't need VC's or crazy ego's to get things done these days. Lot's of opportunities and you can (if you chose) moon the system.

Going back to the pool and chilling for a bit....just waiting for something cool to pop out of here. Geez !!!!



Mesh




lrmobile_GTHill 12/5/2012 | 3:33:24 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol The link to the test is here:

http://www.networkcomputing.co...

Yes, I can show that Meru got more access to the medium. Read my first post. It outlines a test that would show how to find out if a vendor is getting more access. On a side note, it is the same test that the authors ran. I wrote my post before reading the actual test.

You are saying that Cisco changed their AP's for the test? Seriously?

Here is why Cisco wouldn't do it. Lowering the contention windowGÇÖs n value increases the chances of collisions. Dramatically. So, letGÇÖs say Cisco was devious and changed their window to 2 to the 3rd -1, giving them 8 slots to choose from (0-7). This would increase the collision rate significantly when they were used in conjunction with each other.

Wired vendors were accused of this for the CSMA/CD. That is fine, because in a switched network, there is a one to one ratio for devices even having the chance of a collision.

In a wireless network, if a vendor wanted to be faster and changed their contention window, it would be great if there were only a few devices. But with an entire network of their devices the only thing that would happen is an increase in collisions.

Cisco didn't adjust their contention window. Meru is either messing with duration values or the contention window. Oh, Meru could mess with their own contention window because if two AP's randomized the same number, it (the controller) could prevent a collision that would normally occur. I bet a nickel that is part of their secret sauce.
lrmobile_djthomas 12/5/2012 | 3:33:24 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Mr. Hill,

It's good to see that you are willing to discuss real information, rather than hype. But, I think you did not follow what I said very well, and so I should elaborate.

First off, there's no real way of knowing what happened, until Network Computing stops hiding behind their magazine and publishes the full traces of the test. Just mentioning that they "ran a test" doesn't cut it. Yes, we're all speculating then.

Now, it's been a while since I've dug around CSMA...I'm an RF guy by training. But, I understand it all pretty well. What I was saying is that Cisco probably increased, not lowered, their backoff. That would make Cisco do, say, 256 slots for themselves, and 16 slots for the other guys. Now, 256 slots won't show up on a Cisco by itself test very easily, but place it next to any standard device, and the standard device will kill it. It's the same argument you made, but I am assuming that Cisco would tune down their AP to prove the point they've tried to make for years.

Now, you don't know that Cisco didn't adjust things and Meru did, because it's all relative. What I would do is suggest one more test.

Take the same APs, making sure they still show the behavior. Now, change the Meru AP out for an Aruba AP. Or a Linksys AP. If the problem still happens, then I'm right and you're wrong. If the problem doesn't happen, then you may be right.

Either way, we don't know because we don't have the information in front of us. And that makes me upset. We can resolve this with some good, old fashioned research, rather than reporters or analysts running tests that are above their heads.

BTW, changing backoffs are no longer cheating. I was surprised to learn that 802.11e lets the AP pick whatever backoff it wants. But that's what it says. Anyone can pick any backoff for any traffic class. The laptop has to follow the AP, though.

Dave
CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:35 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Innuendos and accusations that I'm getting paid by a wireless vendor, have an ax to grind against Meru, etc. amuse and only highlight the defensiveness, paranoia, opacity, and other traits readily observable at Meru starting with its founders. Ignoring those distractions here are some observations that help take this discussion forward.

The Network Computing article mentions several occations where Meru shifted its explanation, wasn't forthcoming with an answer, or used the "it is proprietary"/"secret sauce" gambit as an explanation (also seen here in a prior posting). Not to mention the "my dog ate the homework" with a modern twist involving broken laptops and VPNs.

When all that emerges from a company with a questionable genetic history it is pertinent for Meru's customers, employees, and investors (current and future) to know about the management dysfunctionality that started with the founders and continues to this day. I've presented numerous facts, all readily confirmable, that highlight that aspect of Meru.

Numerous industry stalwarts have attempted to figure out Meru's much-touted "secret sauce" and concluded it is nothing but a set of (shifting) protocol violations. Meru has problems interoperating with others, they shift their explanations and keep referring to their "secret sauce" instead of filing patents, their architecture is different from everyone else, they don't participate in standard, industry-wide third-party tests, they don't do evals (a normal industry practice), etc. Their credibility is in tatters. At this stage the burden of proof is on Meru to answer questions and explain themselves and especially so given their history.

Trying to decipher and pin down Meru will be successful with some cooperation from them or when their bluster comes crashing down. Until then it will be a pointless exercise as their product is buggy, their support non-existent, their standards compliance questionable, and their explanations inconsistent.

Back to work...
CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:36 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol A Meru paid shill or a marketing critter made tall claims about Meru's secret sauce and trade secrets. I challenged that and I believe my challenge was logical and rational. It is likely that secret sauce is more likeky a protocol violation than any worthy intellectual property. And Dave's response is to dismiss my challenge with a "who cares about this secret sauce discussions?" Isn't that telling something about Dave and his affiliations?

Dave, you acknowledge my intricate knowledge of Meru and its management practices. I believe therefore I've earned credibility that Meru hasn't yet. So I'll consider your demand to name myself after you have first asked Meru and its founders to answer or admit to the numerous questions posed in this discussion already. Should you want to further establish my credibility, ask around and you'll find my points are verifiable to the last letter.

Lastly, Cisco's patented RF management is...patented. Review the patent and contest that, if you don't care for it. Aruba and Cisco, unlike Meru, are open to third-party evals and bakeoffs. They don't fall back on a defence of "secret sauce" only to dismiss it with a "who cares?" when challenged.

With Meru's flawed genetic history how can one expect intellectual honesty or rigor?

As for your imperious order that I "bury my axe elsewhere"--you are not king and nobody your slave. Instead of presuming axes and agendas why don't you deal with the facts I've laid out?
lrmobile_djthomas 12/5/2012 | 3:33:36 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Good call, let's argue facts. You make the conclusion that Meru is most likely violating the protocol. What sort of violation is it? Neither Dave Molta nor Network Computing were able to describe it. All they could do was mention a side-by-side test and a suspicion that they silence the air by inflating Duration fields. I want to see AiroPeek of this Cisco and Meru interference test.

(By the way, PCF, which Aruba used in Network World, inflates the Duration field as a part of the standard. That's why the standard has Duration fields. I don't think inflating the Duration fields are important, only whether APs hog more than an installer would expect and control. If I turn the power level up on my AP and put a big antenna on it, I kill my neighbor's AP. But I can turn it off and be nice if I want to be.)

I don't care about secret sauce discussions because you are bloviating. I doubt Meru has any wonderful secret sauce, but I doubt it matters, if they can do better in deployments. I don't get paid by any wireless vendor, unlike you must have been, and probably still are.

So, should I ask the founders of Meru? Why bother? You take shots at everyone from the safety of your anonymity. I don't care if they screwed anyone over. Larry Ellison is supposedly a jerk, and yet we use Oracle. I can't convince my boss to not buy from a vendor because of the founder. Now, if the salesman is a jerk, that's a whole nother beast.

You are right that Meru doesn't do any evals. That bothers me. I don't think people doing guerilla evals (such as Farpoint did) is right. But I would love to see someone do another head to head, with Aruba, Cisco, and Meru's full support, and then we will see.

As for your axe, I never said I was king. I said I was Dave. But, I think that no one is learning anything from your complaining about founders. The real issue is whether Meru is violating a standard, whether it's a minor thing or a major part of their solution, whether Cisco cheated to try to crush a competitor, and whether this has anything to do with the networks I have to install. I want to learn. You, on the other hand, are already full of answers.

If you know how Meru is cheating, tell us. If you know how Cisco does their RF better, tell us. If you don't, then go take a nickel and call someone.
lrmobile_djthomas 12/5/2012 | 3:33:37 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol How do you know the methods were sound? Can you even name what the methods were? Can you show how Meru got more access to the medium?

Let me ask you this. Say you have an access point that has its backoff set to 256 slots. And you put another one next to it that does the standard behavior. And then you run the same traffic downstream. One wins. One loses. The winner looks like he cheated, but that's because the scheduling is opportunistic according to the standard and the loser really cheated to make their point. Both Cisco and Meru probably sent their engineers and made their own code, so both had opportunity, but Cisco has a great incentive to hobble their own AP in this one unique test that wasn't a part of the main tests, as the article states. Only complex air trace analysis would show that Cisco rate-limited their code. I see motive and opportunity for Cisco to cheat. Inquiring minds want to know!
lrmobile_djthomas 12/5/2012 | 3:33:37 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Mr. Prescient,

You name names so easily. Why don't you be a real man or woman and name yourself?

I suspect you have sour grapes because you must have been fired from Meru. That would explain your intricate knowledge of all of their management, and your constant desire to mention their names. Bury your axe elsewhere.

Who cares about this secret sauce discussion? I want more tests, real tests with real devices with all vendors participating. Besides, if what you say is true and there is no such thing as secret sauce, then why does anyone care about Cisco's claims for patented RF management whatnots and Aruba's constant talk of security? Perhaps each of these vendors does have something unique to offer, and you just don't like one of the vendors personally.

Dave
lrmobile_GTHill 12/5/2012 | 3:33:38 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol According to the test, in which the methods were sound, showed that when a Meru AP and a Cisco AP were sharing channel space, the Meru got much more access to the medium. Meru is blaming Cisco, but with Cisco vs any other vendor the "problem" doesn't exist.

My take: Meru is not playing by the standards.
CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:39 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol First, talking about Meru's management (past and current) is relevant. It helps employees, customers, investors already associated or considering associating with Meru to make informed decisions.

Second, it is disingenous for Meru to trot out its "secret sauce" explanation. Secret sauces work say, with the corner shop selling falafels. They don't have to comply with protocols, standards, inter-operability, and such expected in the networking industry. Meru may be innovating in the business model by being the first tech company to use "secret sauces" instead of patents but nobody is buying it.

If that secret sauce and trade secret is valuable, why did the recent VP-Eng and CFO leave, not long after they were hired with fanfare? That secret sauce sure must have been strong enough for Cisco and Juniper to curl up their lips with disgust and walk away. If Meru is that confident in its trade secret what explains their fear of third party tests, competitive bake-offs? their problems interoperating with other vendors who have no problems interoperating between themselves? how come no customer, other than a few small school districts, bought into Meru's story of its secret sauce? no indepdendent industry analysts or evaluators?

Those that tout secret sauce and trade secret as Meru's competitive advantage are naive or in denial. Or a paid shill. For Meru to engage in that strategy confirms the CEO's inexperience mentioned earlier and the BS of the current and founding managers. Meru's DNA is partly derived from its founders, Ujjal Kohli and Nicholas Mitsakos, and that explains why Meru is opaque, disingenous, and paranoid.

Trade secrets/secret sauces can be reverse engineered. In this competitive industry, with so many sharp minds at work, with so many disgruntled ex-Meru engineers and executives, with the likes of Cisco and others playing hard and winning, why hasn't Meru's secret sauce been reverse engineered? Because...there isn't any secret sauce and reverse engineering a protocol violation is a laughable idea.

As to why Cisco offers steep discounts to those considering Meru, refer to the many companies that bit the dust under those circumstances. Meru is in a death spiral. To BS about secret sauces and trade secrets...
peanutoat 12/5/2012 | 3:33:40 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Howdy,

Looks like I erred by ever sending a message to these boards. I think most people on here must work for one of the four companies mentioned (Aruba, Cisco, Meru, and Symbol), and so it is just a crappy high school prom, with the posturing and all.

I could care less about Meru's management. The way I hear it from the sales reps, this industry has gotten down to mud fighting at this point. Everyone's got an accusation. "Alan Cohen is a bastard." "Dominic Orr is screwing over his employees." Unless those guys stop over and try to sell me directly, I really don't care. I have a job to do.

See, folks, this is what hopping on the bandwagon is like. Did Meru break the standards? I am the only one who even yapped about the details of TXOPs. Is anyone else interested in whether that is breaking the standard, or how? Seems to me like this Molta fellow got suckered into a Cisco special, only because this Bob O'Hara guy (from the Network Computing responses) wrote a book on 802.11. Explains why they published a he-said-she-said.

I find it dang hard to believe that Cisco had a bug that made their AP break. But why didn't Meru take more than half the air time, as their Chief Technologist points out? Cisco says they should take more than half, if anything they said makes sense. It's a zero-sum game, so why are things not adding up? No collisions, just how much airspace you occupy. Show me sniffer traces, or withdraw the article if you are not going to let me judge.

And nuclear arms races for standards? Cisco sells CCX, which is not the standard, no matter what their reps tell me. The way I see it, CCX is cheating. Or explain why Network Computing ran a test for voice and didn't use WMM, then complains when one of the two vendors implements parts of WMM? Smells worse than a wet dog on a hot day.

I don't know Meru from Adam. But if they have something that takes Cisco toe to toe, and causes this much of a ruckus, I want to learn more. I want to know what Cisco is fighting so hard against. I want to know why Cisco is offering 80% discounts on wireless to any potential customer that Meru is talking to, from what my guys say. Anything worth conspiring against is worth finding out what you're missing, folks.

The more you guys pick on Meru, the more I'm gonna be fascinated about what they must be doing right.
lbknick123 12/5/2012 | 3:33:40 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Reading Meru's network computing test defense piece:

meru claims that their products don't kill adjacent, other-vendor AP's performance, as shown in the network computing test. They say it is a Cisco bug that forced the Cisco AP to perform poorly in the presence of a meru AP.

Then, they say the following:
"Almost all our customers have legacy access points that interoperate perfectly with Meru, and Network Computing's tests were performed with standard clients."

So .. I'm sorry .. doesn't cisco own around 75% of the wlan market? They've been selling for years, and the vast majority of install base out there must be cisco. Thus -- majority of meru's customers probably have cisco APs.

So do Cisco APs work with meru, or don't they?
wii 12/5/2012 | 3:33:40 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Prescient,

You should argue/comment against the technical aspect of the article or technical aspects of Meru. You are boring everyone with your same Meru Management rant (that too, about an old management team which is no longer part of Meru) irrespective of what the article is talking about.

Regarding why Meru has not filed for patent; do you know coca-cola http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... has not patented the GÇ£secret sauceGÇ¥ which drives their whole core-business since so many years? That is because there is something called trade secret also and it is up to the innovators and company to file patent or hold on to trade secret.
lrmobile_GTHill 12/5/2012 | 3:33:41 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol I agree that my test (again, I wrote that before seeing that they performed the exact test) is very focused on the technology itself.

You seem to be very knowledgeable about Meru as a corporation and their business practices so I'm in no position to discuss those points.

However, do you really think that Meru would file a patent? I'm sure that it would be granted, but that would be publicly saying that they are not conforming to the standards. Enterprise implementers are very leery of any product that isn't standardized so they would almost guarantee their demise.

After filing a patent, Meru's only hope would be to get their technology standardized and have a significant jump on the market. Meru doesn't have the clout in the industry to get their technology past an IEEE TG.

Meru is gambling that people will be so happy with their improvements that they will look past these articles and implement their technology. They will continue to deny any variation of the standards and hope that the average decision maker either won't care or won't understand the differences in the "nitty gritty" of the technology.

I do agree that Meru's future is in jeopardy. I do know that more and more of my students are aware of Meru. But, the focus of vendors in any discussion is about Cisco, Aruba and Symbol in that order. Meru is still currently a footnote.
lbknick123 12/5/2012 | 3:33:41 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol
Unless you assume that Meru itself is going to be around for a long time (and given the rash of negative test results that have shown in in the press lately, that's a open question), a customer must consider the prospect needing to go elsewhere in the future to expand their WLAN.

Customers, particularly big ones, rarely roll out complete coverage. So let's say a customer deploys meru gear in one department or area. One year from now, if meru isn't around, they'll be forced to rip out the meru gear because it kills the performance of adjacent standard gear.

I recently read Meru's rebuttal to the Network computing article, which btw read like a very panicky, over the top response. Essentially, meru's cto said that network computing guys didn't know what they were doing, and that the only reason Cisco's AP had lousy performance next to a meru AP was due to a cisco bug. Look .. as a cisco user, I know their gear is certainly not perfect. But I also know that my site has one area (operating next to Cisco WLAN) with aruba gear. (I won't say which we prefer.. ;) What I will tell you is that there's no performance stomping going on one way or the other. Really a rather frivolous argument by Meru's technical guru.

When we started our evaluations over a year ago, we simply couldn't find any third party validation of meru's system. read a lot (a whole lot) of press about new products and partnerships and awards. What we couldn't find was any testing where meru agreed to participate. Now, all of a sudden, three show up this month, and I guess the results assure me that we didn't miss anything here.
CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:42 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol First, about their "founding" management team, namely Ujjal Kolhi and Nicholas Mitsakos. They formed a venture partnership with Ravi Sethi and screwed him over. The LPs in the venture, including SunAmerica, got tired of being lied to and screwed around by UK and NM. Result was the two were fired from their venture responsibilities and the venture firm shut down. Ask questions around about MKS Ventures.
Entrepreneurs in whose companies UK and NM invested were lied to and later stabbed in the back by them. Ask founders at companies MKS invested in, where UK or NM served or serves as a director still.
Executives at Meru were scapegoated for business problems and fired or left on their own. Ask ex Meru executives, including the most recent CFO and VP-Eng that left several months ago.
Finally the board woke up, fired the two, and in crisis mode launched a desperate search for a CEO. Ask Meru's investors.
CEO candidates with a clue walked away, realizing a company with this genetic history has slim chances. Current CEO, formerly a VP at Proxim and SGI--hardly known for business success or ethics-- took the job as it gave him a chance to be CEO and makes his next job as CEO easier. Meru's circumstances didn't allow for a longer search and there was no assurance the candidate pool would get better. They are having a big problem today trying to fill the VP-Eng and CFO positions. Explains why those positions remain unfilled for many months.

CTO retained for technical value.
The original VP-BD is now VP-International Sales/Corporate Strategy and was retained to project an image of management continuity.
In companies Meru's size the CEO drives strategy (with, if it's a growing company, the VP-BD). Here we have a CEO who clearly acknowledges he can't do strategy and has given that responsibility to someone who is also running International Sales. All this when there's a VP-WW and a VP-BD. Says enough about the CEO's inexperience and poor judgment.

If Meru had confidence in its secret sauce it'd have gone ahead with 3rd party tests, competitive bake-offs, patents, etc. That they are paranoid about 3rd party tests and bake-offs, and have little to show by patents, confirms company's DNA is the same as the founding management team's. Hardly surprising.
lbknick123 12/5/2012 | 3:33:43 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol Prescient - Now you have me curious about their current management, and you seem to know quite a lot about this place. What's the story with their CEO? What's his history? Only common denominators between their old management team and new seem to be Kamal Amand and their CTO. Why are they still there if there was such a tight link with the old CEO?

This company appears to have a lot of smoke and mirrors. Looks like they cheat, industry tests show that either they cheat standards, or that their stuff is just too plain buggy to pass a test. But at the same time they brag on their website that the Gartner Group loves them.

Smoke and mirrors or the real deal?
CleanSheet 12/5/2012 | 3:33:45 AM
re: Futzing the Protocol GTHill's suggested test misses the forest for the trees. Instead of getting into the nitty gritty, why not ask the bigger question which is:
Business sense mandates Meru must have obtained or filed for a patent for their secret sauce, if they have any, that explains their "advantage." In the absence of patents (or patent filings) it is more likely their secret sauce is cheating.

I don't see any patent filings from them that explain their secret sauce. And, if they had any patents or patent filings in the works wouldn't Juniper or Cisco have jumped at the opportunity to buy them out to obtain that intellectual property?

Those bigger questions obsolete the need for any further diligence on Meru. Companies with troubled genetic histories die early; some, in a growth market, might flail around and eventually die off. Meru may have made it this far in a thus-far growing Wi-Fi market. What follows will confirm their flawed genetic history and lead to what the market has concluded about Meru: it is a stink bomb.

What transpired at Meru for the ex-CEO and "co-founder", Ujjal Kohli, to leave abruptly and not even mention his Meru experience or affiliation at his new job as CEO of Rhythm New Media? Check his profile on www.rhythmnewmedia.com.
What explains the simultaneous departure of ex-CFO and "co-founder", Nicholas Mitsakos?
What business relationships did they have in addition to Meru?
What do executives that left Meru have to say about Ujjal Kohli or Nicholas Mitsakos?
Wht do entrepreneurs and others in companies where they invested have to say about UK and NM?
What does Ravi Sethi, a business partner of UK and NM, have to say about them?
What are the non-business relationships between the ex-CEO, Ujjal Kohli, and his VP, Kamal Anand?
What explains the departure of the most recent CFO and VP-Eng?
Which startup in Silicon Valley has a VP-International Sales and another VP for Worldwide Sales?
Which has a VP for Corporate Strategy who also performs as the above mentioned VP-International Sales?

With a genetic history as bad as Meru has, their future can't be promising. Sure, they'll get the occasional bone missed by Aruba and Cisco and others. Let's see how long that can continue.
lrmobile_GTHill 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.

lrmobile_GTHill 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.
respondvibratefeedbackresonate 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_justme 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.
lrmobile_strungup 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 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.
CleanSheet 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.
maynard41 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 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 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......
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