Mist Systems first delivered a new way of looking at Wi-Fi at MFD2. I was impressed with their product and I continue to be impressed with the progress they’ve made since their last time at MFD.
What Mist Systems brings to the table is a way of managing Wi-Fi the way it should be in our current state of the industry and workplace. The amount of confidence in their product shows. They’re truly proud of it.
I’ve been confused about how vendors use Artificial Intelligence (AI), and I’ve never really known if they really were, but Mist definitely goes into it with their platform. And the expandability of the Mist product, the amount of data collected, and how that data can be used via the API is astounding. They give you full flexibility and autonomy of how you want to handle that data.
Sudheer brings a lot of energy on stage. He knows the product very well and can answer any question. As he should. He exudes his energy and it feeds the room. The confidence really shines and helps sell Mist and the problems they solve. Sudheer is not afraid of saying how they’ve replaced incumbent competitors in existing environments.
Mist brings a lot of issues to light. Issues that were not seen by Meraki or Ruckus and where bubbled up as Wi-Fi issues.
One such customer they are proud of is Pet Smart. They went head-to-head with Meraki. Sudheer described Pet Smart’s attitude as skeptical as they entered into the bake off. Now they are rolling out Mist across all their stores, identifying and resolving issues quickly, and leveraging the Mist API to provide better customer experience.
Is it believable to say that Mist can really achieve all those check boxes with just a Wi-Fi solution?
With many large companies moving to Mist, there seems to be a similar story amongst all of them. These companies don’t know what’s happening on their networks. And Mist has provided an answer to their pain point that appears to be a Wi-Fi issue.
There’s another conversation that extends from that, which is if these networks were properly designed and the engineers had troubleshooting expertise, would they have needed Mist?
Then there’s the age of Mist themselves. Being less than 5 years old, how can they be trusted? That age can be deceiving. The company may be young but it’s being ran by seasoned professionals. Bob Friday co-founded Airespace and later held roles within Cisco. Sudheer Matta also held roles at Cisco within the wireless business unit.
The platform itself is another cloud managed Wi-Fi service. They’ve built it around open source technologies which I have no real expertise in critiquing.
But this platform provides a way to bring a constant stream of updates, bug fixes, and new features through their dashboard. From the controller-based Wi-Fi world, a consistent stream of updates and feature enhancements is unheard of.
Mist does this at scale with microservices. Being in the cloud world, microservices may be a simple topic but in the way I understand it this provides a way to role out updates easily and to fail fast and safe without causing global customer disruption.
What has me really interested in Mist is their API. Compared to Meraki’s API, you’ve got yourself a full-on toolkit at your disposal. It isn’t baked on top of a product.
The API was developed alongside the product. What’s really surprising to me is some customers opt to build their own dashboards and skip Mist’s altogether.
The Mist API is extensive and can cater to a novice or seasoned professional. If there’s specific data you’re looking to use, manipulate, or analyze, you can do it with the Mist API.
Mist is going all in with Marvis, their AI-driven Virtual Network Assistant (VNA). Marvis, which draws similar ties to Iron Man’s Jarvis. When it comes to AI, we would need a system that would perform functions that normally require human intelligence and inspection. Marvis is the AI that will help look up issues for you, perform anomaly detection, faster root cause analysis and real-time changes through RRM.
Some of the ways Marvis can be utilized by IT teams is to ask it simple questions such as:
“Unhappy users at site office”
“Troubleshoot site office production”
“List client events yesterday”
There’s so much trust that goes into Marvis that the Mist support team uses Marvis for troubleshooting with any client tickets that come in. They eat their own dog food. As a result, Marvis brings up a lot of data for correlation and provides enough to make it actionable.
Future of Mist
How bright is Mist’s future? What concerns me with being cloud-based, gathering immense amount of data that has to be analyzed for AI and Machine Learning, is how will this amount of data impact Mist financially? Cloud is great for enterprises and we know the benefits. Big Data in the cloud can get expensive. Will we ever see an on-premise solution for even the biggest customers? Who knows.
From what I can gather, Mist is not for those looking for a single vendor stack. Mist doesn’t have a switch, router, or firewall. But what they do have is a way for you to leverage API to work with their partners, Palo Alto Networks and Juniper. Mist doesn’t want to be a jack of all trades, master of none. They stick to what they know and do it well.