Xirrus Debuts MSP Program To Target Wi-Fi Services Opportunities

Under the program, Xirrus MSPs will be able to deploy Xirrus' Wireless Array platform, Wi-Fi Designer technology and cloud-based Xirrus Management System (XMS) to remotely configure, troubleshoot and manage policy on customer wireless networks.

With Gartner projecting that by 2015, 80 percent of newly installed wireless networks will be obsolete because they haven't been properly planned, the services opportunity for wireless is a rich one for Xirrus partners, said Kevin Hollenbach, vice president of sales for the Americas.

"We believe that wireless lends itself very appropriately to an outsourced managed services play," Hollenbach told CRN this week. "We've signaled to partners that we're not going to compete with them, and not going to build a cloud-based management model. We're announcing this program as an umbrella to allow our MSPs to build out that business."

Xirrus' MSP program covers value-added wireless services including network architecture and capacity planning, site surveys using Xirrus Wi-Fi Designer, network implementation and employment, network configuration, network maintenance and provisioning, network monitoring and reporting, and troubleshooting and analytics.

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Xirrus is encouraging MSPs to put the XMS product into their own data centers for use with managing and troubleshooting the Xirrus Arrays in a customer's environment. When the partner operates the XMS in an MSP model -- that is, they sell a service to customers using the XMS, not resell the actual XMS license to customers -- they see the biggest discounts from Xirrus, Hollenbach explained, though the resell option is open to them as well.

The advantage for partners, Hollenbach said, is in taking an XMS image and virtualizing it so that on one deployment of XMS, the partner could be managing multiple customers.

The impetus for Xirrus MSP program came from both customers -- who according to Hollenbach were frequently asking if Xirrus had partners who could take the wireless infrastructure management load off of them -- and several Xirrus partners, who were already trying to work the Xirrus products into their existing managed services models.

What's required for participation is that partners be Platinum or Gold level with Xirrus. Partners who acquire product through the MSP program stand to receive additional discounts depending on the numbers of appliances and software licenses sold.

The MSP program debut follows the emerging Xirrus Partner Program, which Xirrus soft-launched in 2010 with the goal of eventually selling its Wi-Fi Arrays 100 percent through channel partners.

Hollenbach at the time was part of an influx of new sales executives into Xirrus to cultivate its channel presence in the hyper-competitive wireless space. Xirrus' hook is that its Wi-Fi Arrays offer up to 16 802.11a/b/g/n radios on a single device, as well as embedded Wi-Fi controllers and switches, spectrum analyzers, Wi-Fi threat sensors and other technologies. In Xirrus' estimation, consolidating various wireless need-to-haves on a single device means far fewer devices to deploy and manage, as well as more powerful individual access points.

Xirrus now has about 75 parters registered as Platinum or Gold, and Hollenbach estimated that about 20 percent of those partners would be able to make the move immediately to the MSP specialization. Xirrus is also in discussion with service providers, he said -- particularly lesser-known, regionally based tier-two and tier-three service providers for whom managed networking services are a crucial revenue stream.