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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

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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 | 3:33:14 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

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 | 3:33:12 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 | 3:33:11 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.
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 | 3:33:03 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

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