By Chad Monroe
CEO at TelcoGeek, an IT services provider based in Santa Barbara, California
The primary reason I use Open Mesh gear is the sheer simplicity of it. From the ordering process to installation, everything is painless.
PROVISIONING ACCESS POINTS IS SIMPLE
When I place an order with Open Mesh for access points or switches, I receive a list of MAC addresses in my account when the order is created and shipped (1-2 days before gear arrives). If I have customer installations pending when I order gear (very typical), I can pull the MACs and pre-provision them in CloudTrax before the hardware even arrives.
When the nodes actually arrive, all I do is tag them based on their final destination and immediately hand them off to technicians to install in the field or begin installations myself. I’ve even drop shipped nodes to customers in other states with absolutely no issues.
SOFTWARE MAINTENANCE IS A BREEZE
Not only is provisioning painless, but software maintenance happens automatically. If an order ships with an older (or newer) version of code than we run network wide, CloudTrax will install the right version at bring up time, leaving little to no room for error once we arrive on location. As long as access points are physically located in the right area, the rest is automated.
OPEN MESH HARDWARE TAKES LESS TIME TO DEPLOY
In my experience, Open Mesh hardware takes significantly less time to deploy. Let’s look at a simple use case: I need to install a firewall and 2 nodes at a medium-sized residence. The total time to pre-provision Open Mesh nodes and connect them once on site takes 10 minutes max.
The firewall on the other hand (even with default configuration), may take 5-15 minutes on site and another 30-45 minutes after the installation to add it to our monitoring system, upgrade software, etc. In an average SMB or medium-size home, installing the Open Mesh portion takes 4-6x less total time to deploy than traditional gear in my estimation.
NEW SWITCHES MEAN MORE OF THE NETWORK IS SIMPLIFIED
Open Mesh recently launched S Series switches, which will drastically reduce our installation time for SMB customers of all sizes.
We sell VoIP services and our phones are typically PoE powered for convenience, so we can use the S Series switches for both Open Mesh access points and VoIP phones, which is huge.
The S8 switch is perfect for small to medium size businesses, which typically use 2-3 Open Mesh nodes and 4-6 phones. In the past we’ve done similar things with Cisco Small Business switches (SF200/SG300/etc.), but there are a few huge deficiencies compared to the S Series switches.
BENEFITS OF S SERIES SWITCHES
Previously, switch configuration was extremely cumbersome. For the Cisco SMB series specifically, you typically jump through 3 software upgrades at 8-10 minutes each before reaching the current software. (Yes, for every unit. It’s annoying.) Couple that with having to create a custom startup-config file for each new customer using a template you’ve already spent hours creating (which is prone to errors due to manual editing), and a single switch can take upwards of 60 minutes to pre-provision before installation.
Compare that to about 10 minutes spent in CloudTrax to provision the OMS24 at our customer NewTahitain, which I did completely offline. The first time I powered up the switch was at the customer’s location and it grabbed config (and new software from CloudTrax) in under 5 minutes.
Because the S Series switches are standards based with some special sauce from Open Mesh, I can use all of the monitoring tools I’m used to. Not only do I get the benefits of monitoring and provisioning in CloudTrax, but I can also enable SNMP for integration with my legacy monitoring system, which contains almost all of our systems in the field (except Open Mesh APs, of course).
This is huge as far as integrating with our existing alerting and monitoring system as we have alerts for everything from excessive TX/RX errors to high (greater than 80%) per-port utilization to device offline. The S Series switches plugged right into our legacy system without a hitch.
SEE FOR YOURSELF
As you can tell, I’m quite happy with not just the S Series switches but all Open Mesh products. Try them out to see for yourself.
Photo courtesy of NewTahitian Apartments, a TelcoGeek client.