Interview with Open-Mesh.

Introduction

I’ve been using Open-Mesh for several years now, first at Calvary Community Church and more recently at a consulting client’s location. Recently I decided to reach out to Open-Mesh and ask if they’d provide me with an interview and included a number of questions. Michael Burmeister-Brown, President of Open-Mesh, responded to my questions and I have included his answers along with any commentary I might have below.

I’ve also included additional information I gathered from Open-Mesh representatives in recent conversations as I’ve been installing this new mesh network for a client and I’ve included what information I could dig up about Open-Mesh’s corporate background as well…Enjoy!

Interview

Thanks to OpenClipart.org and pgbrandolin for the image.
Thanks to OpenClipart.org and pgbrandolin for the image.

Dave: What happened to the MR500 line of products?

Michael: The MR500 has been discontinued. It was never designed as a successor to the OM2P series, but a second, dual band line. Its successor will come out this summer (2013). The successor will include:

  • Dual Band 2.4/5 ghz.
  • Clients and Mesh will occur on both bands (MR500 was mesh on 5 ghz, clients on 2.4 ghz).
  • Much higher power / receive sensitivity providing greatly improved range / speed. [Dave: From personal experience, the distance was a real issue with MR500 units, a limitation inherent in the 5 ghz spectrum which has a more difficult time penetrating walls and other obstacles.]
  • Each band will support 450 mbps, providing an aggregate output of 900 mbps.
  • The addition of 802.3af POE support, meaning the new units will support standard POE switches. [Dave: Current units in both the MR500 and OM2P lines require injectors and the warranty is voided if units are directly connected to a standard POE switch.]
  • Layer 7 (application) bandwidth control and monitoring. This will allow administrators to control which websites / web applications users can run and how much bandwidth they will be allowed.
  • Active Directory / RADIUS support allowing integrated authentication to company servers.
  • The POE version will have a single gigabit ethernet port while another variation without POE will have five ports.
  • Price point will be $299. While this is more expensive than the MR500 it is still almost $1,000 less than the equivalent Meraki model (MR24).

Dave: What about the future of other products?

Michael: We will be introducing a 5 ghz-only OM5P model identical to the OM2P-HS but operating on 5 ghz. This will allow customers to use all the OM2P-series housing options and build out a 5 ghz or hybrid network consisting of 5 ghz and 2.4 ghz models. Most computers / tables phones in the last couple of years support 5 ghz so this will be an increasingly viable option. It will also be considerably lower in cost than dual-band units while providing more flexibility in installation. The OM5P will have an MSRP of $99.

Dave: The site is pretty simple and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of advertising out about Open-Mesh. Will this change?

Michael: To date we have not done extensive sales or marketing outreach, but I think you can see this is beginning to change by the website and especially the resources page. This summer/fall will see significant increases in this area as new people come onboard.

Dave: How many employees do you have at Open-Mesh?

Michael: I am not sure of the exact count – we are a geographically diverse company with two separate teams in Germany and others in Italy, Canada, China, and of course, the United States.

Dave: For organizations interested in Open-Mesh, how do they know your product will work and that you’ll be around in the future?

Michael: Our sales have doubled each year for the last three years and we have just under 40,000 networks managed on Cloudtrax. Feel free to reach out in a couple months and I’ll be able to share more information on new offerings – especially regarding Cloudtrax.

Open-Mesh Corporate Profile

Open-Mesh is a low profile organization. Unlike many sites that have detailed information about their corporate officers posted on the site, Open-Mesh has none. Go over to CrunchBase and you’ll find a bare-bones company profile. There is no company page on LinkedIn and searching for Open-Mesh employees surfaces only two.

One could take this as a sign that the company is small and unstable, but when it comes to technical companies this is oftentimes the sign that employees are pretty hard-core geeks who spend more time coding and building than they do marketing themselves. It seems to be the latter in the case of Open-Mesh.

Luckily, finding information on Open-Mesh President Michael Burmeister-Brown, who provided the above interview, is a little easier than finding information on employees generally – and Burmeister-Brown’s background is nothing to laugh at.

Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek tells us that Michael founded Central Point Software in 1981 where he served as President, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) until 1991. Central Point would be acquired by Symantec in 1994 for $60 million.

In 1992 Michael founded another company – Second Nature Software  – and began serving as its president. This company had an environmental focus and committed all its profits to The Nature Conservancy – over $2.5 million. It appears to have closed its doors as of 2012.

Michael founded another company, NetControls.com in the mid-1990’s and in 1997 this company was acquired by Yahoo!. Michael continued at Yahoo for five years working on Yahoo’s News Ticker and Yahoo Messenger products.

He has also served as a Director of WebTrends since October 1996. I am unsure whether this position is ongoing – Bloomberg doesn’t clarify.1This information on Burmeister-Brown consists of info. gathered from Bloomberg but also from NetEquality, Wikipedia, and Second Nature Software’s site.

Michael became a co-founder of NetEquality seeking to ensure that internet access was available for everyone – especially low-income communities. Originally, NetEquality was associated with Meraki, but when Meraki boosted their prices and abandoned the low-cost market, Michael decided to step in and found Open-Mesh.

Want a face to put to that name? Check out Oregon Live’s article here and scroll down the page halfway.

Other News

According to conversations with Open-Mesh representatives I’ve had over the last several weeks, here are a few other tidbits I’ve gathered:

  • There is a significant firmware upgrade on the way for Open-Mesh devices this Spring [unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the details of what is included…but it was pretty exciting.].
  • Another upgrade will occur in the Fall/Winter of 2013 which will include one of Meru’s best features – automatic load balancing across available APs.

Send Me Your News

If you have additional info. or updates on Open-Mesh or CloudTrax, I’d love to hear them and I’ll try to add them to the current article as appropriate.

Support Open Mesh

I’m impressed by what Open Mesh is seeking to accomplish, it seems like a company with an honorable and worthy mission. I’d encourage you to join me in supporting them.

Google Glass: Everything You Need to Know

Google Glass - Everything You Need to KnowIntroduction

Even as the new tech apparatus trickles into the hands of developers and testers, the future of Google’s Glass remains unclear. Although Glass will not hit store shelves till 2014, analysts have plenty of opinions about how successful it will (or won’t) be and why. Aside from its current projected price of $1,500, Glass has several other hoops it will need to jump through before it becomes a viable product for many consumers.

Vision Prescriptions

Unless Google has an secret ophthalmology department in the works, it is certainly not equipped to supply consumers with prescription lenses. The company many have figured out a way to address this particular issue, according to CNET, by partnering up with eyewear designer Warby Parker.

Neither Parker nor Google would confirm any deal, but teaming with a trendy eyewear producer would make sense for Google. The company may have its hands in many different products, but prescription eyewear is not one of them. It will need assistance to provide a usable Glass product for those with a need for vision correction. The addition of stylish frames and lenses may also help make Glass a bit more fashion friendly.

Looks

CNN recently discussed how Google Glass resembled other unappealing tech gadgets like the Bluetooth headset and the Segway. Both were actually quite useful, but both also looked ridiculous enough that few people adopted them as fervently as designers would have hoped. One could wear a Bluetooth all of the time, but few do, because it looks incredibly pretentious. Segways function just as intended but no one, save the fictional GOB Bluth, really wants to be seen on one.

CNN argues that Glass will not be highly successful because it fails to deal with reality. The product will not be useful enough to make people get over the way they look while wearing it.

TV Options

Sports Perspectives

Not everyone is down on Google Glass, however. Chicago Now discusses how a new perspective provided by Glass could change the way viewers watch hockey games, and maybe do something to increase the popularity of the sport. The NHL has always been low man on the totem pole amongst the top four North American sports, and Chicago Now argues that a large part of that is because it is too hard to follow the puck.

One of Google’s “Explorers” – people trying out Glass before it goes to market – posted a video of him playing hockey while wearing the product. First-person perspective on a sports game, especially hockey, may change the way viewers experience games of all kinds.

Second Screen

Fast Company discusses how Glass could potentially be used as a replacement for the standard remote control in television. Currently Google TV is working on a way for users to have a second screen in their hands to help control and search, because it is easier than using a remote. While Google would not comment on linking Glass and Google TV together, the possibilities are appealing.

New Packages

With ever-increasing levels of video streaming online, cable companies are doing what they can to keep up. Direct tv packages start around $30 a month. Many providers allow users to stream their television to tablets and phones. Widespread Glass use would likely increase the use of streaming services, and increase competition even more.

Current Information

Google has stated that Glass will release for around $1,500 to start. As with all tech gadgets, the price is likely to decrease as demand goes up. As proven by tech reviewers taking pictures of them in the shower, the product is at least durable enough to be water resistant. How long Glass will continue to function as intended, and its basic longevity, is not yet known.

Conclusion – Worth Watching

Whether Google Glass is successful or not, the idea is intriguing. It will change the way people view wearable technology, for good or ill. By that measurement, Glass has already made a huge impact without even hitting store shelves.

Google glass photo from Flickr user loiclemeur / Loic Le Meur.

I LOVE SSD!

From Aug. 2005 until Feb. 2013 I worked full-time in various Information Technology positions. As such I had access to robust computing equipment and frequent upgrades. When I became a full-time pastor in 2013, those benefits of working in IT became significantly less available. What does that mean? On a practical level, that I’m still using the same laptop I had three years ago – even though that is way beyond my usual “upgrade cycle” historically.

OCZ Vertex SSD Hard Drive.
OCZ Vertex SSD Hard Drive.

So, what does one do when its time to upgrade one’s workstation but you don’t want to spend the money to purchase an entirely new system? In the past my answer would be “upgrade the RAM” but now it is “maybe upgrade the RAM and definitely go to a SSD hard drive.”

See, most computers I buy these days come with a decent bit of RAM – 4 GB or more. For the average user, you aren’t going to see a “big” performance boost adding RAM above 2 GB or 4 GB to your system…at least, the performance boost becomes less with each additional upgrade.

Replace a standard “mechanical” hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD) though and you will see an huge performance difference. I’d probably have broken down and bought a new machine by now if I hadn’t bought and installed an SSD drive for this laptop in January before I left Cairn University.

The SSD drive took my boot time down from several minutes to under a minute (and I have a pretty heavy load of stuff on my system, many individuals doing lighter work might see load times around thirty seconds). It also makes system performance overall much more snappy – especially anything that involves reading/writing data from the hard drive (aka, almost everything).

I won’t go into all the details of why a SSD is better than a traditional hard drive – you can check out Storage Review’s article on this topic if you are interested in the details.

For those who are interested, I purchased my SSD via Amazon, specifically the OCZ Technology 128 GB Vertex 4 Series SATA drive (cost currently: $130). I couldn’t be happier with it.

I chose the Vertex 4 because (a) it was compatible with my laptop, (b) the drive has massively positive reviews from hundreds of customers, and (c) it comes with a 5-year warranty.

You’ll notice that the price is significantly more than for a traditional hard drive (HDD), but the price is worth it. Still, one will want to avoid buying too much disk space and wasting money – that is why I went with a 128 GB drive. I wouldn’t go smaller than that, unless all you do is browse the internet – and I wouldn’t go larger than that unless you really need the extra space.

If you do need the extra space, you might want to look at a second internal hard drive (this is usually possible with desktops, only a few laptops include this feature) or an external hard drive (this will work with desktops and laptops) or a cloud drive (e.g. from Google, Microsoft, SugarSync, Dropbox, etc.).

One final important note: It has always been critical to backup your data. I can’t tell you the number of individuals and businesses I know that have lost significant amounts of critical data due to hard drive failures. This problem is only exasperated with SSD drives, which tend to be harder to recover data from than their HDD equivalents.