Xirrus Vs. Meru

Meru has recently put out a press release about their deployment at Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham England.

The installation consisted of 32 Meru AP150 Access points, operating as a Virtual Cell on a single channel, and managed by two MC0305 controllers. After evaluating Cisco’s prices and what they had to offer, the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital went with Meru with the assist of  Synaptic Solutions. ROH stated that Meru was able to offer their services at an affordable price, faster installation time, more offerings, and met the installation deadline, which was 5 weeks.

According to Alan Kidner, IT manager of the hospital, all you have to do is “un-box the access point, fix it to the wall, connect it to the LAN” and it updates and starts working on its own.

Now to compare, I recently put up a press release about Xirrus’ deployment at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

And I use a few quotes from the press releases:

“Xirrus very quickly convinced us that their solution was capable of fulfilling these requirements and more—delivering the user density, bandwidth, coverage, and reliability needed to support our physician and patient applications, and give us the ability to easily upgrade to 802.11n without undue disruption or drain on IT resources”

  • The structure of the Xirrus Wi-Fi Array allows the customers to easily upgrade to 802.11n without draining resources. The AP150 Access points by Meru is strictly 802.11abg, meaning that you would have to buy a whole new product if you wanted to be 802.11n compatible.
  • Also when comparing installation, Xirrus employees actually install the Wi-Fi Array into locations that will allow the Arrays to be maximize to their fullest useage. Also Xirrus offers a FREE site survey before installation to guarantee customers of what they need for full coverage of the area. Alan Kidner stated that all he did was just open the box and fixed the access point into the wall by himself.

Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust stated, “We are very impressed with the Xirrus Wi-Fi architecture, especially when compared to the traditional centralized architectures we looked at,” continued Murphy. “The Xirrus Wi-Fi solution will require 194 cable drops to cover the entire campus, while a centralized system from other vendors would have required well over 1,000 cable drops, yet still not have delivered the bandwidth, user density, RF management and shaping, or full switch-level control for our voice, video, and data traffic. By selecting Xirrus, we reduced overall costs due to 800 less cable runs, 800 less switch ports, and 800 less devices to install, manage, and upgrade to 802.11n.” By saving on installation time and equipment, they reduce their overall expenses.

Alan Kidner stated, “Since installation, the network has operated without any significant problems. As access points are manager centrally, any problems with them are easy to fix. If an access points fails, we just plug in a spare.” His statement makes me believe that problems did arise after installation. Small or large, a problem is a problem. Not to mention his attitude towards a failed access point is sort of non-challant.

Overall if you are looking for quality, satisfaction, good pricing, and a company that will make life easier for you, Xirrus is the way to go. From ease in upgrades to a reduction in costs and equipment, Xirrus is out there to do the job. During these rough economic times, anyone looking for Wi-Fi should evaluate Xirrus’s products and services to save their resources

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Xirrus Vs. Meru

  1. John

    Why did they buy the AP150 units, the AP301 and AP302 are both A/B/G access points and only require a license file to upgrade to N support? Even better is that since the Meru solution is single channel, you can support 40Mhz wide channels on your 2.4Ghz wireless channels to acheave 300Mbps connections without getting 5Ghz clients that support N.

    Another thing of note is the Meru Access Points support 128 clients per radio.

  2. John

    Don’t understand the statement, If a radio fails, just plug in a spare?
    Do they have a spare of a 4, 8, 12 or 16 radio. (Quiet expensive hobby)
    If Xirrus fails you’ve got a minimum failure 4, 8, 12 or 16 radio’s depending of the model deployed, creating a HUGE coverage and performance gap in the network. What about the channel planning which is a nightmare with Xirrus?

  3. wifijedi

    John – full disclosure is that I work as a Consulting Engineer for Xirrus.

    As far as temporarily compensating for a coverage hole, the Xirrus arrays have auto cell technology that can adjust transmit power and receive sensitivity.

    Concerning a permanent fix in the event of a radio failure, the Xirrus arrays have modular radio boards, so individual boards can be replaced without having to swap out an entire unit.

    The MTBF of the unit is 100,000 hours.

    I can tell by your comments that you are a fan of channel blanket architecture. This is at the opposite end of the spectrum to the array architecture.

    Using multiple channels allows for more capacity in a given physical area. I can provide 11 bonded channel pairs in 5 GHz alone, which provides 3.3 Gbps of capacity. Using a channel blanket, you are stuck at 300 Mbps in that same physical area. Period.

    This becomes especially important because wireless is a shared medium. Therefore in this example, if you can provide T1 speeds to 128 users in a given physical area with a channel blanket, I could provide T1 speeds to over 1400 users in the same space.

  4. John

    Actually with Meru one can provide coverage blankets in layers, so every room could take advantage of all channels at the same time.

    In any other model all areas that are say on channel 36 must have physical separation from any other area that is using the same channel. Unless there is only one radio for each channel in the building then all areas can not take advantage of all channels.

    Here is another way to look at it. In a Meru environment you can have one bonded 40Mhz channel (channel 1 + 6) and one 20Mhz channel (channel 11) blanket the entire building, so every room in the building would be able to take advantage of the full list of available channels. Using a different company’s wireless solution you lose twice. First off you can not channel bond in 2.4Ghz due to co-channel interference and second you can only take advantage of one channel in any one space at a time (With the exception of cases where you can cover the whole building with one AP). The same scenario applies to 5Ghz channels.

  5. wifijedi

    John,

    I understand that Meru (or any single-channel architecture vendor) can run multiple channel blankets.

    The big issue with that is you need additional APs to run several blankets. I understand that you can probably run two blankets on certain Meru APs because they have two radios. In your scenario, you would be providing 450 Mbps of total bandwidth (300 Mbps for your bonded pair, and 150 Mbps for your other 2.4 GHz channel).

    Let’s say that you need 20 APs to cover your building. If you now want more than 450 Mbps of total capacity (which is shared by all clients in a wireless environment), you are going to have to install another 20 APs to provide additional channel blankets. With 20 more cable runs, 20 more switch ports, etc.

    In a scenario like this, Xirrus could provide 4-5 arrays. Let’s say they are 8 radio arrays. Because of their directional antennas, they provide the same coverage as 20 traditional APs (while using 15 less cable runs, 15 less switch ports, etc). They can each provide 2.4 Gbps of capacity.

    Xirrus would provide 5 times the capacity at1/5th of the capital investment in cabling, switching, etc.

    Respectfully,
    Douglas

  6. Mark

    Here is a link the actual case study for those who wish to compare the Bloggers reporting vs. Meru’s telling of the story.

    http://www.merunetworks.com/pdf/casestudies/CS_ROH_0410_v6.pdf

  7. Dave

    Interesting read – even more interesting was the comments left by John and Douglas.
    We are moving into a new building in the near future and require blanket wireless, I’ve heard arguments from both Meru and Xirrus for why the way they do it is the best, however, I’m yet to find an actual study comparing the differences (cost/performance limitations) between the two

  8. Brent

    I have never used a Xirrus product before, however I have dealt with Meru in the past. Meru uses proprietary and complex methods in order to divide the bandwidth of the single channel to multiple users, the SCA or Single channel architecture comes with it’s limitations. If there is interference or poor SNR on a specific wireless channel in a part of a building your entire infrastructure is stuck on that channel. SCA requires a learning curve to troubleshoot and is non standard. Roaming between access points should be performed by the client and not determined by the Wireless infrastructure. There are more concerns I have about Meru, but just be aware it is not just plug in play and is different than other wireless vendors.

  9. Very well posted!I really liked this post!good job!

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