We're diving into a world where businesses and Wi-Fi network engineers have full control over their Wi-Fi infrastructure through White Box Wi-Fi.
White Box Wi-Fi
Rick Wilmer, CEO of Mojo Networks, got into the wireless industry through a CPE and core router company. He saw wireless networking being the next big technology.
We start by asking him, what is cognitive Wi-Fi? It's collecting a mass amount of data from a network. They use the data to predict what the network is going to do next. If that’s going to be a negative user experience, going to try to remediate that problem fast enough before a user knows they’re going to have a problem. Cognitive Wi-Fi works better with more data, thus Big Data. Machine learning is applied to that data to automatically remediate issues related to end user experience.
What is the biggest value of white box Wi-Fi? It drives cost of enterprise Wi-Fi down. As the cost of the solution goes down, volume goes up. Mojo Networks is about to ship their 500,000th access point. With the more APs out there in production, the more it feeds Mojo Networks’ big data.
Rick Wilmer says functionality and design is moving to the chipset vendors. Hyper scale companies are scaling out large data centers with compute but in their own way without relying on big vendors. That’s how Rick Wilmer found his way to the Open Compute Project (OCP).
OCP drives open standards around hardware which drives the trend of applying it to Wi-Fi. Nothing new is invented. Just as applying what was done to servers and switches but now into Wi-Fi. This focuses Mojo Networks towards developing more of the software side.
If the AP is defined by the chipset and all the chipsets are largely coming from Broadcom and Qualcomm, that hardware platform is essentially going to be the same as far as core functionality.
Does that mean hardware doesn't matter? Hardware is still important. It is important in a design and manufacturing stand point. But it’s driven by sophisticated original design manufacturers (ODMs).
Which verticals can take advantage of white box Wi-Fi? Wilmer says, higher education, enterprise, retail, and many more.
What’s driving the need for white box Wi-Fi? Generation 1 of the white box Wi-Fi is making APs available to customers at a price they come out of the factory. There's no mark up or margin. Hardware comes from one vendor and software comes from someone else. It's a disaggregation model but Mojo Networks obfuscates the process for the customer.
Generation 2 white box Wi-Fi is when the industry gets to a point where APs from different Wi-Fi vendors interoperate. Think about a light bulb. Any light bulb from any store can plug in and work.
“I can buy any brand of light bulb from any store, bring it home, plug it in, and it’s going to do what I expect it to do, which is light up my room. Wouldn’t it be amazing for the customer if access points worked that way.” – Rick Wilmer
What is the impact to firmware support. Wilmer says APs have been qualified to work with Mojo Networks cloud. Software has been certified with hardware, such as Edgecore access points.
We will see innovation moving away from hardware and into Cognitive Wi-Fi.
What are the basic requirements of a white box AP and what are the basic features we can expect to see? Wilmer says we will see full parity on the Mojo Cloud.
This has already been put into production with Edgecore and Mojo Networks APs at the Open Compute Summit which was held in the San Jose Convention Center. Mojo Networks provided the guest Wi-Fi for the summit. Edge Core APs were running Mojo Networks' code. Attendees were provided views of the Mojo Cognitive UI running at their booth, like a NOC. Connected to the guest Wi-Fi, Mojo Networks was able to see 3400 visitors at the summit.
How do you get other vendors involved? Customer pressure. If we want to see change in the Wi-Fi industry, we must pressure vendors to participate and develop solutions for white box Wi-Fi.