Silicon Valley startup Mist, which was formed in 2014 by some former Cisco executives, is using machine learning to make it easier to set up and manage its WiFi platform and also to enforce certain service level expectations (SLEs).
“For example, if I want every user to connect in two seconds or less, what percentage of the time am I hitting that?” asked Jeff Aaron, vice president of marketing at Mist, noting that the company’s platform provides metrics not just on coverage and capacity but also throughput.
Mist’s platform combines WiFi with a patented virtual Bluetooth low energy (vBLE) technology. The company provides wireless coverage for medium-to-large businesses, hotels, airports, retailers, and more.
Aaron said the company is using machine learning algorithms to detect anomalies in the network and also to microsegment traffic. For example, it can track the individual client on a device, allowing IT administrators to monitor the experience of every WiFi user on the network.
The Mist platform also uses a customized microservices wireless control plane to track the client in real time from before connection to after connection. “We have access points that communicate to the cloud,” Aaron said. “We are collecting data on the network every two seconds and then we move that data to the cloud.”
Mist also has a patent pending on what it calls its WxLAN policy engine, which Aaron said can segment users and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Typically, the only way to segment groups of users is to create a unique pre-shared SSID for every group. But doing so takes time and advance notice.
Mist can develop a personal wireless local area network (WLAN) that allows secure segmentation using a SSID. Aaron said users can create their own keys that can be applied to the devices and shared within a group. People outside the group cannot access these devices or services. Aaron said this type of scenario is particularly helpful on college campuses or hotels where there may be a group of students or group of hotel residents that want to access the same network.
Mist has about 200 customers worldwide including 10 Fortune 100 companies. The firm’s executive team includes former Cisco executives Sujai Hajela, who serves as CEO, Bob Friday, the CTO, and chairman Brett Galloway. The company is backed by Norwest Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.