Steven Wastie, Xirrus's Chief Marketing Officer informed me that Xirrus
($70 million annual revenue) today released their next-generation wireless platform, the XR Wireless Array, which is their 3rd-generation Wi-Fi modular wireless switch. Xirrus's goal is to ensure high performance wireless networks, whose explosive growth is being driven by mobile devices including laptops, mobile smartphones and tablets, such as the iPad. Xirrus products are used at high-attendance conference and events, including Dreamforce
, and others.
Unlike traditional APs which use omnidirectional radios, Xirrus combines directional antennas with multiple radios together with a virtualized controller in a unique modular architecture that allows you to go completely down to the number of radios installed. The It enables you to have anywhere from 4 to 16 modular 802.11n Access Points with 450Mbps throughput Access Points. Modular XR platforms supports up to 32 total internal plus external remote radios for extended coverage. It features high-gain, directional antennas, distributed intelligence, multi-Gigabit switch, wireless controller, threat sensor, and firewall. Xirrus pointed out that it is the first software upgradeable device enabling you to upgrade radios from 54Mbps to 300Mbps to 450Mbps. They also claim to have the first multi-state radio platform with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz capable on every radio.
What's also unique about Xirrus's platform is that you expand performance range and throughput simply by adding radios to one circular array (depicted above) instead of the traditional way of adding additional Access Points (AP), which results in radio and channel overlap with reduced performance. Xirrus says they get 4X the coverage of traditional APs per array. This is also the first product to market that is 802.11ac/11ad-ready when the new IEEE W-iFi standards are adopted.
Steve Wastie explained, "From an engineering perspective, getting 16 radios in an access point and managing all that RF and interference is really hard to do. There is a lot of IP in the reflective surfaces and design that we use on the antenna. We've really upgraded and beefed up the performance of the processing power on the edge. We've got a Cavium 64-bit 6-core processor in each of these devices which gives us a lot of horsepower for applying firewall rules, doing IPS, IDS, and just managing the general throughput."
Today, they also announcing a new Xirrus Management System (XMS) v.6.0, which adds Device ID detection. The new software can detect if the wireless device an iPad, Android, etc. You can then apply performance or firewall policies based on the device type. You can also view analytics and reports based on device types. Another new feature is remote packet capture. You simply dedicate any radio in any Array as a sniffer for remote trouble shooting and spectrum and performance analysis. The new 6.0 release also adds legacy AP management. It also adds enhanced IDS/IPS functionality – more signatures, better threat management and the choice of form factors - appliance or virtual machine.
In the past, Xirrus was priced higher than competitors because of all the radios inside the chassis. Now, in support of this new modular architecture Xirrus has adapted a much more flexible pricing making them competitive in both large and small deployments. You can choose a 8-slot (XR-4000 - $2500) or 16-slot (XR-6000 - $4000) "UFO" chassis and for the radios you can choose 300Mbps ($250) or 450Mbps ($300) radios depending on your budget.