Monday, March 09, 2009

Open-Mesh APs... just-work

It surprises me that I haven't heard more about Open-Mesh within the context of the SMB community... as it enables you deploy a convenient wi-fi infrastructure quickly, and cost-effectivly. What's more - it really is just-work easy. So... if not open-mesh, perhaps you've heard of Meraki? If not, you probably know some of their handiwork... they took over one of the semi-failed attempts at providing municipal free wifi in San Francisco and essentially turned it into their live lab. I won't bother rehashing most of the history, since there is a lot stuff out there on them, so I'll just leave it at this... Meraki was a really interesting company that evolved from MIT's Roofnet project... unfortunatly some business model changes resulting from round 2 VC funding appear to negativly impacted their relationship with a formerally loyal community.

So, flash forward to the more recent past, and you'll find a growing community over at Open-Mesh uses the many of the same bits found on the old Meraki products, expect they now support the OSLR protocol, as well as the BATMAN protocol. What makes Open-Mesh so neat is that all of the complexity and routing intelligence is built into the open-mesh firmware. Open-Mesh wifi consists of what appear to be normal AP's wired to Ethernet, or some high-speed Internet gateway... except these AP's can also serve as repeaters. In other words, if you don't have an Ethernet drop... but can see your wifi signal, just plug in another Open-Mesh AP and it will detect the signal of the other AP, and start functioning as a repeater. Obviously - this useful because you can just put them anywhere near another Mesh signal and they'll 'just work' by auto-configuring themselves.

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