Mesh has never been easierBy CWNP On 01/19/2008 - 13 Comments
For a long time, I avoided mesh like the plague. It was non-standard, and everyone had their own radically different take on how things should be done. After what I'd call a slow start, Firetide has really made some snazzy moves over the last year. I just spent 8 hours in the lab going through the latest available indoor mesh hardware and code. What can I say? It just works.
The coolest part is that it works like you'd expect it to work if you were building a mesh system. It's intuitive and flexible (generally attributes that don't go too well together). Firetide's East Coast SE, Mike Graham, is the Mesh Master and an all-around RF guru. I'm reasonably sure he understands the details behind every single feature in the entire platform. :) I got to play with their dual-radio 6000 series mesh nodes and their 4000 series APs. The Hotview management software discovers and configures these devices easily and quickly. No hickups, which was impressive.
While Firetide apparently spends most of its time on rooftops (deploying outdoor systems), their indoor systems work nicely and are a great fit for a number of vertical markets. Their entire system acts like one big Ethernet switch once deployed. It's extremely slick. I wouldn't hesitate to deploy other vendors' split-MAC WLAN systems right over the top of it. They have a bonding feature where both radios in each mesh node can be on a different channel (whether in the same band or not) and form dual links to every other mesh node. This allows for double throughpu, with the current caviat that a single flow (based on source/destination pair) doesn't seem to use all of a mesh link's bandwidth. It takes 2 flows to see traffic across both mesh links because of how the load-balancing works.
Their radios can do anything from 2.4 to 4.9 to 5.x GHz. Nice.