Mist upgrades next-gen wireless network platform as it looks for new MSP partners

Mist is using some of its latest round of funding to build out its MSP channel, with a special focus on partners capable to adding their own value on top of Mist’s platform.


Jeff Aaron, Mist’s VP of Marketing

Today, Cupertino CA-based Mist is announcing the addition of new capabilities to its next-generation wireless networking platform, which it sells through an MSP channel. The company also announced a new funding round.

“Our goal is to build a modern wireless platform for the smart device era,” said Jeff Aaron, Mist’s VP of Marketing. “With wireless moving from connectivity to experiences, with companies in the space having platforms that are over a decade old, and which are pre- iPhone, and pre-Bluetooth Low Energy [BLE], a new platform is needed to provide better mobile experiences.”

Mist’s platform combines a modern microservices cloud architecture with advanced machine learning that the company believes is perfectly suited for MSPs.

“We realize that we are entering a mature market,” Aaron said. “There is still a need, however, for better operations, especially on the MSP side. They need to be able to scale their operations and get rid of all the manual tasks around packet captures and sniffing. We’ve put a lot of machinery into our systems to do just that.”

Mist’s platform also features Bluetooth location services that are easy and smooth to deploy in any environment.

“The ability to offer more value-added services is critically important to MSPs, and that’s where Bluetooth comes in,” Aaron stated. “Our enterprise grade BLE enables services personalized to users based on their locations – essentially an indoor version of Google Maps. This includes proximity messaging and personalized greetings. It allows for things like patients entering hospitals being able to get directions to their room. People entering malls can get appropriate discount coupons sent to them.”

Aaron also said the Mist platform allows MSPs to offer Wi-Fi assurance services to customers.

“MSPs can go into old Wi-Fi environments and with this they can tell their owners they can get them to the cloud,” he said. “On the Wi-Fi assurance side, we have expanded our dashboards, providing more tools to set service level expectations for users for attributes that affect wireless performance.We have added parameters for Thoughput, Latency and Jitter, joining Connection, Covverage, Capacity and Roaming.


Root cause indicators on the Mist dashboard

Mist has also added one-click root cause analysis, to spare MSPs the need to look at a multitude of dashboards, event logs, and byte counts to determine the root cause of problems.

“One click will show you where the problem is, regardless of whether the problem is with a wired, wireless or device issue,” Aaron said. “Our machine learning capability will let you drill down and easily fix root causes.”

BLE location services have also been enhanced. Mist has always used virtual BLE beacons rather than physical beacons, which are ugly and a nuisance to deploy. Now Mist has added “wireless glasses,” which gives administrators a real-time view of the RF environment from the mobile device’s perspective. This makes troubleshooting much easier.

“RF glasses provide a real time view into the RF domain which no one else has,” Aaron said.

Mist has also added BLE Asset tracking, which delivers deep analytics on both Wi-Fi and BLE to track the average and maximum number of wireless users in a location, the number of visits per zone, who is visiting each zone, and what the user experience was during each visit.

“The uses of analytics in this way is another unique element of functionality,” Aaron stated.

Mist also announced the Mist BT11, an industry-first enterprise-grade Access Point for Bluetooth Low Energy (version 4.2).

“This BLE-only access point is idea for someone who wants to do just Bluetooth,” Aaron said.

Mist also announced the close of an over-subscribed $28 million Series B financing, taking the total investment in the company to approximately $43 million. The round was led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), with additional funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, and Cisco Investments.

Part of this new funding will be spent on Mist’s expansion of its MSP channel, although the company has no plans at all to create the kind of vast MSP channel some vendors utilize.

“We are shooting to have about 50 MSP partners this year, and double or triple that next year,” Aaron said. “We aren’t looking to just sign up anyone, but are looking for partners who add a little more value. We are going after and have partnered with some Tier 1 MSPs. We are also looking at lots of regional MSPs with smaller footprints, who want to sell services on top of us. A third group of candidates is resellers who want to be MSPs. They can use us for a NOC and offer services on top of that.”

Mist is already active in Canada, and is partnered with what Aaron called a “very large service provider” which cannot yet be identified.