VeriWave's WLAN Testing Products Find Willing Channel

VeriWave had a good thing going with its wireless testing products: a steady stream of vendor and service provider customers impressed with its client-based performance measurement offerings. But with wireless network demands surging due to the growth of mobile devices, the volume of clients being added to networks and the pickup of faster 802.11n wireless technologies, VeriWave saw another golden opportunity for selling its wares: wireless-savvy VARs.

In late September, the company launched a full channel partner program to sell two recent software offerings, WaveDeploy and WaveInsite, through the enterprise channel. The goal was to not only give VARs a wireless testing service option beyond basic site surveys -- which many VARs say have become commoditized and limited in their appeal -- but also a flexible testing option that can be deployed as an up-front surveying tool and leveraged as a managed service play, too.

"We saw a three-tier opportunity," said Eran Karoly, vice president of marketing for VeriWave, in an interview with CRN. "These organizations have the opportunity to help IT managers deploy networks better, and they can make money doing it by reselling our solutions. The opportunity here for life-cycle revenues -- they are continuously health-checking the network -- is big."

Instead of mapping performance by access point signal, WaveDeploy evaluates client devices and applications on their performance, interoperability and interaction with access points, as well as wired and wireless networks, using traffic sent and received from actual Wi-Fi clients as they move throughout a site.

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The WaveDeploy software is deployed on a laptop, while WaveAgent, another software application, is loaded onto client devices that need to be tested. WaveDeploy collects data as in a traditional site survey, but it can measure a number of different clients and applications in one take, instead of individually, and it can create color-coded maps that indicate on a scale of green to red the trouble spots in the Wi-Fi deployment.

NEXT: Testing, Testing

Founded in 2005, Portland, Ore.-based VeriWave has a strong footprint with health-care-oriented solution providers and with those focused on retail, warehouse and industrial settings where wireless networks need constant evaluation.

WaveDeploy metrics include quality-of-experience data such as mean opinion scores over wireless VoIP and the speed of Web page downloads. According to Karoly, the metrics have to be that exacting or else the surveys don't tell you much.

"If I have a Dell Latitude and the guy in the cube next to me has a MacBook Pro, we see the network differently," Karoly said. "One guy may experience it as 'it sucks,' and one guy might see it going a lot better. So we can take out the guesswork, and for the first time give them answers which are actionable."

The WaveDeploy package starts at $4,995 and VeriWave offers WaveDeploy as a test client called WaveDeploy Basic, which has limited functionality and is useful for rudimentary testing. VeriWave further offers limited-use evaluation licenses.

The other main tool, WaveInsite, enables users to conduct over-the-air tests of Wi-Fi networks and collect data on WaveAgent. WaveInsite licenses start at $9,995.

NEXT: A Complement, Not A Competition

Internetwork Engineering, Charlotte, N.C., one of the country's top wireless solution providers for the health-care space, has been one of VeriWave's most vocal champions through selling WaveDeploy and building managed services around it.

"The biggest problem in doing site surveys is figuring out what each client device is doing," said Dennis Holmes, mobility practice manager at the solution provider. "I can have excellent coverage for 80 percent of client devices in a hospital, and 20 percent are bad because of an antenna array, or a manufacturer's issue, or a firmware issue, or whatever. You might never know what it is. This is great for troubleshooting."

There was a worry early on that VeriWave would be seen as competing with the testing, monitoring and site planning wireless solutions many of its vendor clients already offer.

It's more of a complement than a competitor, Karoly insisted, and several VARs told CRN that WaveDeploy has been useful in tandem with tools like Cisco's CleanAir spectrum analyzer.

"We're careful not to compete with things that they have," Karoly said of other vendors' wireless planning products. "Take Motorola LAN Planner. We don't do that; we're not a predictive tool at all. You can drop an AP and test around it with us, but we do not have a predictive component where we draw walls and say this is good here and that's too crowded."

NEXT: The Health-Care Sale

"We do see it as sort of the evolution of what a site survey process has been in the past," said Charlie Franco, director of business development for Global Technology Resources Inc. (GTRI), a Denver-based solution provider.

GTRI previously partnered with VeriWave to help medical device companies pass 510(k) clearances for new and significantly modified devices with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But Franco said for many of the health-care customers it serves, WaveDeploy is a compelling offering as a channel sale, too.

"We're seeing a kind of collapsing of silo-based clinical applications onto a common IT infrastructure," Franco said. "The challenges that face hospitals today include how do they know if their existing environment's network will support all those clinical applications. We can give them a what-if environment and help them with future capacity planning."

Internetwork Engineering’s Holmes said he's found the ease-of-use and depth of metrics both good hooks for selling to health-care facilities. ’When I'm dealing with the director of nursing at a major hospital organization, she probably doesn't know what DDM means, or how to calculate signal strength in megabits," Holmes said. "But when I show her a map that says green, yellow, orange or red, that's a clear understanding of it's not going to work here, or it is."

What needs to come next, Holmes said, is VeriWave making sure that it doesn't spread itself too thin among channel partners. "I will tell you that I have seen vendors in the past who manipulated site survey data, rather unscrupulously, to drive sales," Holmes said. "I'd like them to solidify who they're going to make this available to, and then make sure those partners get versions of code that can't be manipulated, so I can't go out, delete two access points off a floor, and suddenly, make a floor look worse than it really is."

NEXT: Program Details

The VeriWave partner program has three levels: Gold, which includes premium discounts, qualified sales leads and access to VeriWave's expert team; Silver, which includes preferred pricing and access to training and marketing materials; and Alliance, which includes basic discounts and channel updates.

Karoly sees the model as evolving over time. "If we could reach a situation where 100 percent of our IT sales went through that community, we would," he said. "Our goal is to make the channel sell as much as possible."

"They're baked," GTRI's Franco said of VeriWave. "A lot of programs and products have the go-to-market strategy, but what VeriWave did was basically develop a product, find some success with it and then realize the need for a channel. They're further along than what you'd expect to find with a lot of startup companies."