Welcome back to the Solution Series brought to you by DoubleRadius and hosted by, yours truly, Jeff Holdenrid.
Jeff: I would like to introduce Jay Bartlett from Edgecore. Today we are going to discuss the TIP initiative and Open WiFi initiative. What exactly is it and how is it going to work?
Edgecore is a huge part of the TIP initiative and we would like to get a better understanding of what it is, where Edgecore fits into it, and how we will see the roadmap (or ecosystem) become over time. Jay, could you give us a basic explanation of what TIP is?
Jay: Absolutely. It is the software defined network initiative that was put into place on the switch side of things (your hardware), but then you put your own firmware or software stack on that switch to manage it through the software you prefer. In the software defined network you can see things like Sonic or PK, but with some of these other software stacks that you load onto a switch and manage because you prefer that software stack. The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) looked at that same initiative and wanted to bring that into the WiFi arena, so they created this Open WiFi initiative.
The goal for the TIP Open WiFi Initiative is to distance yourself from being vendor locked. Instead of being forced to buy a particular hardware product because the management stack (software) is what you are use to (what you are trained on, or what you have your staff accustomed to, etc), the TIP Open WiFi stack can be placed on any hardware that is enabled or TIP Open WiFi capable. Now you can steer clear of being vendor locked and the supply chain challenges. When you find the hardware that you need but that particular vendor being short on supply leaving you in a situation of being stuck. The Open WiFi Initiative created an open sourced stack called Cloud SDK that holds most of the tools and features that anyone would need to manage an access point (AP), but it can be extended and modules can also be added to that stack to create the product you desire.
Why would a vendor want to go that route? Edgecore has a long history of supporting open initiatives. Example: data center switches with software defined networking pieces and now supporting the wireless access point arena. We see that as a natural extension of what is happening in the marketplace where customers are asking for choices, options, and the ability to not be vendor locked.
Jeff: Your management software is called what?
Jay: EC Open. It is very similar to our access points of the past with the EC Cloud management platform. It holds the same look, feel, and functionality to the EC Cloud but is now the EC Open Cloud Management piece that you would put on a TIP enabled access point.
Jeff: Basically, if someone used your management software and loved it, but they couldn't get a product for some reason, they could buy other hardware and put your management on it to continue to do all the features that they love?
Jay: Exactly. If you look at it from the cloud management platform, hopefully you would buy the Edgecore product but if for any reason we are out of stock, you have someone else's TIP Open WiFi enabled access point you can manage that under the EC Open cloud platform.
Jeff: What are a couple main cloud platforms that you see people are looking at today, besides you own?
Jay: Another is called NetExperience. If you prefer some of the features and functionality of NetExperience you can load that into the TIP Open WiFi enabled product. That is the beauty of it, to have these functions available to the customers. To be able to say “EC Open is great, but I’m more familiar and prefer NetExperience.” is a comfort level from a management point of view. Hardware is hardware. Once you have the ports and the capabilities of the radios it is all about how to manage it and see what is happening inside the box, that’s the software stack.
Jeff: For the record; Edgecore radios are on the shelf and shipping today! People can use whatever management that is TIP approved to load on your radios and away you go! No delays.
Jay: We are shipping our WiFi 6 Access Points today that are the Edgecore version, but we also have a separate version that is the Open WiFi version. It is completely up to the customer on what they want; openness capability or the Edgecore piece. There are options for the customer.
Jeff: If the customer selects the Tip Open piece that gives them the ability to use your management? If they change their mind in the future they can just make the swap?
Jeff: That seems like a great way to go there! Getting away from WiFi, what other parts and pieces are we looking at going into this ecosystem?
Jay: Going forward from a TIP Open WiFi or just an Open WiFi point of view in general, again, what we connect these Access Points to typically is a switch at some point. So, now we have switches that are Open WiFi enabled that would support those as well. You can now run that under the EC Open Cloud Management Platform to see both the Access Points and the Switches. You will see the activity happening, the clients connected to it, who is eating up all the bandwidth, etc. It is a nice platform to see from the Access Points all the way to the switches.
Jeff: Talking about switches I would like to hit a point real quick on your Edgecore switches. If you haven't looked at, or dove into seeing and playing with the Edgecore switches, there are many to choose from. They offer high-end data center switches, basic Enterprise switches, and even access and gateway switches (SFP Cages). SFP Cage Switch has been a really big play lately, especially in the MDU (Multi-Dwelling Units) where you can connect multiple POE (Power Over Ethernet) switches on multi floors.
Jay: The Edgecore product line, whether you are looking at 8 port, 10 port POE switches that go out to 48 port switches down to an SFP only switch set. That full line from physical security players that put cameras on floors then go down to the basement that connects to an NVR (Network Video Recorder) Edgecore supports.
Jeff: Going back to TIP and the initiative real quick; I know in the beginning there were a few players involved, but now that has now been growing exponentially over the last few months to a year. Are there any key players that you see today, or ones you might see coming in the near future that you can name off for us?
Jay: Just to rattle off the big name in the tent, you can look at Meta (Facebook). They were kind of the big push from behind us. Again, they didn't want to be vendor locked, they wanted the ability to say “Here is the open source capabilities of this” that was offering a modularity piece to it. They were big initial supporters of this initiative. If you look at the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) you will see the amount of players that are involved, it is a good look at who’s who behind this. Edgecore really sees the industry gravitating towards this and supports this more and more.
Jeff: There are some big names on that list, we are not talking about something in its infancy, it has grown to large companies like Meta and Edgecore, as well as a few other players you would want to see!
Is there anything else you would like to tell our customers and views that has to do with TIP?
Jay: Take a look at it. It is definitely a new initiative, but see the benefits behind it and be cognizant about it next time you are placing orders for networking equipment. Maybe everything works and it is a “If it is not broke don't fix”, but maybe consider (in these days of supply chain availability issues) it is all about what software stack and management piece connects to that piece of hardware that matters.
Jeff: What we are seeing right now is video security play, MDU spacing, campgrounds, marianas, RV parks .. are there any other big markets you are seeing these used in?
Jay: Definitely hospitals and college campuses, which also falls into that MDU space you mentioned. We now have the EAP104 (in both Edgecore and the TIP versions) that you can pop into a wall plate for real quick installation. Makes it easier to get up and running. We are seeing that a lot in the MDU spaces.
Jeff: It is a nice clean install that you do not have to go to the roof to implement.
Jay, we really appreciate you being here to talk about the initiative and educating our guests, bringing out a piece of hardware, and letting us talk about it. I’m sure we will have a follow-up later down the road. Thank you for being here.
For our viewers: Reach out to your sales rep at DoubleRadius, ask questions. We can get Edgecore on the line to make sure we get the right answers. We will get pricing to you for both the WiFi and switch platforms. We hope this has been a benefit to you, keep watching and we will see you next time!
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