Firetide, the Los Gatos, Calif., maker of mesh networking infrastructure, has announced that the company has started shipping new Wi-Fi access points designed to work in conjunction with its mesh networking hardware and management software.
The new line of HotPoint APs are designed for enterprise and municipal networks, and are offered in both an indoor and an outdoor version.
According to the company, these APs offer a number of features, including enterprise class security.
“Our customers have been asking for access points with more features,” said Mike Downes, vice president of marketing communications for Firetide, “such as outdoor access points with a lot of features. Because of this need, we decided to create our own access point.”
Downes said that while the APs arent identical because they must work in different environments, “We kept as much similarity as we could.”
Until now, Firetide has only provided mesh infrastructure.
“Rather than providing a Wi-Fi application, we provided Ethernet ports that provide Ethernet connectivity over a wireless backhaul,” Downes said.
“We allow any Ethernet device to operate over our mesh network. This includes Wi-Fi access points.”
Downes said that even though Firetide will be selling its own APs, customers can still use any access point they want, just as they always could.
He said that this is one reason that the company resisted the temptation to build them together.
“There are reasons you might not want this,” he said.
“We can optimize the location of both devices,” Downes said. “But if you need them together, you can mount them together with a single mount,” he added.
He also stressed the importance of being to manage the Firetide mesh infrastructure equipment and the APs with the same software at the same time.
He said that this greatly reduces complexity, especially in very large networks.
“You can update software for entire mesh at same time,” he said.
Analyst Craig Mathias said he thinks this is an important move for Firetide.
Mathias, who is principal, Farpoint Group, in Ashland, Mass, called the new HotPoint product line a big step forward.
“It broadens the appeal of their product line,” Mathias said, “you have a greater degree of flexibility.”
Mathias said that many enterprises have already set a standard for their wireless equipment from which they dont want to deviate.
With the Firetide mesh, you dont have to change, he said.
“If youre a Cisco shop with a bunch of their APs you can use those same APs over the mesh,” he said.
He added that some companies would rather buy everything from the same place, and he said that he thinks that their unified management system could be important.
The addition of an indoor mesh product is also important, Mathias said.
“Having both indoor and outdoor is important,” he said. “Indoor mesh is a largely unexplored field at the moment. Once people discover it, well see a lot more indoor mesh,” Mathias predicted.
“I think they have a very robust offering,” Mathias added, “but whether its the right feature set for a particular user depends on the user.”
The Firetide HotPoint APs started shipping on Aug. 8. MSRP for the outdoor unit is $995.00 and for the indoor unit its $695.00.