Unbiased Review of Xirrus Wireless Arrays
I was plagued with dead spots and low signal strength in one of our 100,000 square feet shipping warehouses. In this warehouse there are shelves that stand 40 feet tall and are filled with products that are mostly made of metal (aluminum and steel). I had a choice; install traditional access points on both ends of every row of shelving (which is a cabling and maintenance nightmare) or find a better, more practical solution. Researching for a better solution, I discovered Xirrus Wireless Arrays.
I researched traditional Access Points (APs) for months to see if I could come up with a solution that would solve my main problems; signal strength, signal penetration, cost, ease of installation, and ease of maintenance. I checked out Cisco, HP and other manufacture’s of traditional APs, but all of these were pretty much identical to each other and would not solve any of my problems. Sure I could purchase 12-14 APs, install one on each end of the rows of shelving, but there would be another issue, I would have to purchase and install external high gain antennas, and this was not ideal. Looking for a better solution I contacted one of our tech vendors (Zones) and got in touch with Xirrus.
David Van Tyne from Xirrus contacted me , answered all of my questions about the Xirrus WiFi Arrays, and explained what Xirrus could do for me. Dave was very helpful and went above and beyond to help end my WiFi nightmare. Dave even surprised me by offering to come out (For FREE!) to check out the warehouse and map out the best locations to install the Xirrus WiFi arrays. I sent Dave a rough diagram of the warehouse floor plan and explained the types of items that we store/ship (tall shelves, full of metal etc.). Dave got back to me very quickly with a simulated heat map showing the best locations in our warehouse to install the WiFi Arrays.
After a little more research I was sold on the Xirrus WiFi Arrays.
Dave kept his word and met me so that he could see the warehouse first hand, and to see the unique challenges this warehouse faced. The company that I work for uses wireless tablets, wireless scanners and mobile wireless printers to check, stock and pull inventory. So you can get an idea of the frustration we were having over our not-so-great traditional APs. Using Dave’s suggestions I went with the Xirrus XR4430 WiFi Arrays. Each unit has 4 directional access points (upgradable to 8). I opted to purchase their Industrial Housings with I-beam mounts, as this warehouse gets very dusty, and I wanted to insure that the Arrays last as long as possible.
Installation was a breeze… Setup of the Arrays is a breeze… You do not have to be a Cisco engineer to configure the Xirrus products, they are simple to install, simple to maintain, and have A TON of features that you will not find on other products. I pre-configured my arrays before installing them, so that once I had them in the mounts they were ready to go. My installation went like this:
- Configured the arrays, set their IP’s, DNS, etc. (took literally 5 minutes)
- Installed the Industrial I-beam mounts
- Ran 2 Cat6 (you can use Cat5e) network cables
- Pop the Array onto the I-beam mount, plug in the Cat6 cables (one for Array, one for fan in the industrial housing that runs of PoE)
- Plug in the PoE power injectors (unless you use PoE switch)
- Sit back and enjoy the new WiFi
I could not be happier with this product. I would highly recommend Xirrus products to anyone needing dependable WiFi.
The benefits of these WiFi Arrays:
A. You will LOWER your cost of hardware compared to traditional APs. I would give you a price example, but I do not work for Xirrus and do not have their pricing, we purchased through a vendor, but I can tell you that versus traditional APs, my savings were over $10,000.
B. You will have less hardware to maintain. In my case, instead of worrying about 12-14 APs, I only have 4 in this warehouse. These units have been online for 6 months with 0 issues.
C. You will have less software to manage. The Xirrus products have easy to use interfaces and so many features that other companies do not have, I could not list all of the features here.
D. You will have higher signal strength and more signal penetration than any other AP that I’ve ever used. I actually pick up signal from one of our Arrays in a second warehouse through 10 inches of reinforced concrete, now I can’t connect through the concrete but I do pick up the signal!
E. Customer Service with Xirrus, top notch. I haven’t had to use their support for anything, but I know that they are just a phone call away.
F. More devices can connect without degrading your bandwidth. On the units that I purchased, it will support up to 960 associated devices!
I would definitely advise anyone that is looking to upgrade their wireless infrastructure to check out http://www.Xirrus.com.
About this article… I have been using these WiFi Arrays for 6 months. I have had 0 issues with them and I love the technology behind these products. I have two other warehouses that we will soon be outfitting with these devices, along with our corporate office. I don’t normally promote hardware, but I do feel passionate about these products, because they work, they work well, and have been trouble free. To me as an IT Professional, products like this are a rare occurrence. Xirrus has solved all of the WiFi issues that plagued my shipping warehouse, and I couldn’t be happier!