Meru Broadens 802.11n Focus To Management And Security


Meru Networks this week announced new wireless security and management tools and also a reseller partnership with SolarWinds, both of which the company says will help VARs offer smarter, more secure wireless to customers as they capitalize on the push to 802.11n WLAN environments.

Specifically, the company's Service Assurance Platform, which Meru previously launched as an all-in-one tool for diagnostic and network management functions, now includes intrusion prevention, compliance management, spectrum management and wired and wireless management functions, too.

Ram Appalaraju, senior vice president of marketing, said that customers crave better end-to-end visibility of their wired and wireless networks. Thanks to Meru's Virtual Cell technology -- which pools access points together in a WLAN through virtualization similar to how storage and servers are pooled in a data center -- Meru partners can make good on the company's vision of "wireless like wired" infrastructure.

"Ninety four percent of the wins we have come in replacing existing LAN technology. Customers can only take so many disruptions," Appalaraju said in a recent interview at CRN's offices. "That's why customers are moving legacy architectures over to Meru. They get mission critical, high bandwidth, predictable security technology. We are now growing into the management aspect, which is the crux of this launch."

The new offerings, E(z) RF Spectrum Manager, Intrusion Prevention, Compliance Manager and Wired and Wireless Management, are intended to complement the existing Meru Service Manager, E(z)RF Network Manager and E(z)RF Location Manager releases.

The E(z) RF Spectrum Manager, which will go head-to-head with existing and recently released spectrum analysis products from Meru rivals like Cisco, Aruba and Ruckus, is priced at $1,595, while the Proactive Spectrum Manager (PSM) 3X, the E(z) RF Spectrum Manager's scanner hardware companion, is $1,295. Both will ship in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Meru's wireless intrusion prevention system is priced at $5,995 for 50 access points and the compliance manager is priced $5,995, also for 50 APs. Both will also be available in the fourth quarter.

Within the E(z)RF Network Manager, Meru will also begin including SolarWinds' Orion Network Performance Manager under a new reseller agreement between the two companies.

"As companies increase their reliance on wireless networks as part of their overall IT infrastructure, we have seen more and more requests for Meru support from users in our online community," said Sanjay Castelino, vice president of product management and product marketing at SolarWinds, in a statement. "With a number of common customers already in place, this relationship with Meru will allow us to address the current needs of our users while also providing productivity and efficiency benefits for enterprises of all sizes, across the various vertical markets."

Meru in the past six months has worked to increase its market strength and expand its channel visibility. Recently, the company completed a successful initial public offering and also brought in Nuance and Novell veteran Cindy Cole as its new vice president of worldwide channel sales.

The analyst community has also taken a shine to Meru. On Wednesday, Robert W. Baird & Co. upgraded its rating of Meru to "outperform," suggesting the wireless LAN industry is "catalyst-rich" and Meru is "well positioned to gain market share" thanks to its positioning with 802.11n adoption.

There's still a long way to go, said Baird analysts, which wrote in a research note that Meru's lack of visibility against much bigger competitors like HP, Cisco, Aruba and Motorola "could make it difficult for Meru to grow or maintain its market share," and that VARs were still concerned about things like the strength of its sales organization and the security of its solutions.

Still, noted Baird analysts, "Meru's architecture provides performance advantages in environments with high user-density and mission-critical application usage, both of which will become more common in 802.11n deployments. Meru's virtualized, single-channel architecture, they said, gives it "a unique value proposition in the market."