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Update expands Mist Wi-Fi management platform use cases

The latest update to the Mist Wi-Fi management platform makes it more useful for divvying up network access in hotels, college dormitories and apartment buildings.

Startup Mist Systems has added finer network segmentation to its cloud-based Wi-Fi management platform, making it possible for companies to determine who gets access to network devices and services.

The latest capabilities, introduced this week, make the platform more useful in places where there might be a need to divvy up Wi-Fi access, such as in hotels, college dormitories or apartment buildings.  Along with the new features, Mist launched a couple of access points (APs) capable of serving more devices.

The cloud-managed Mist Wi-Fi management service, launched last year, combines big data and machine learning to track user behavior and ensure network performance. The company sought to make its APs stand out in the market by embedding Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon software. The technology lets retailers skip the use of separate hardware when deploying wayfinding, promotional and informational services in stores.

With the latest version of the Wi-Fi management system, companies can build smaller segments within a Mist Wi-FI network through an update of WxLAN, a Mist technology that network managers use to create policies for assigning network resources, such as servers and printers, to groups of users. The latest version of WxLAN lets managers create a service set identifier for a select group of users and assign services or devices that only they can access.

"This type of network segmentation would work really well in a multidwelling environment, such as a college dormitory," said Nolan Greene, an analyst at IDC. "Also, within a corporate environment, this simplifies access-policy setting in environments with multiple user groups."

Visibility into the user experience

Along with finer network segmentation, Mist has made its Wi-Fi management platform better at providing visibility into people's Wi-Fi interactions. New metrics gathered by the system include the time it takes an AP to connect to devices and the number of failed attempts. The system can also collect roaming data. Roaming is when the modem within a mobile device switches APs to take advantage of a stronger signal, or to leave an AP that's dropping too much data.

Also, Mist has extended its anomaly detection capabilities to include mobile devices, operating systems and applications connecting to the network. That lets managers separate those areas on the network that need immediate attention from places that have noncritical problems.

Mist adds new APs to portfolio

Along with the latest software features, Mist added two APs to its portfolio -- both with BLE beacon capabilities. The AP21, released this week, delivers 802.11ac 2x2 Gigabit Wi-Fi on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. The AP61, scheduled for release in the third quarter, provides 802.11ac Wave 2 4x4 Gb Wi-Fi.

"The expanded AP line shows they have a commitment to moving up the market to serve large organizations that have greater performance needs," Greene said.

Mist competes with much bigger vendors, including Cisco -- which has a stake in the startup -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Xirrus, which Riverbed Technology acquired this year. While the products have differences, they also provide many of the same capabilities.

Next Steps

Solving problems with Windows 10 Wi-Fi

Adjusting to the latest Wi-Fi technology developments

Improving Android Wi-Fi connections

Dig Deeper on Network management and monitoring

Unified Communications
Mobile Computing
Data Center