In the recent trip to Juniper HQ in Sunnyvale, I heard something that may change the wireless industry for good.

In the recent trip to Juniper HQ in Sunnyvale, I heard something that may change the wireless industry for good.

The Juniper Networks HQ was stately and professional in all the usual ways. We ventured only part-way down an otherwise nondescript hall and turned the corner in a small room abuzz with the Mist team — still as eager to share their work as your eight-year-old proudly displaying yesterday’s art class masterpiece. The experience and knowledge was deep but the excitement palpable, even with these veterans of wireless product management.

Their excitement set the stage for Mobility Field Day 4 (#mfd4), and set a high bar for the remainder of the week’s speakers.

Mist CTO, Bob Friday, and VP Products, Sudheer Matta each kept hinting during presentations at a concept, or rather series of concepts that finally clicked. It was so obvious that in hindsight I realized they weren’t hinting at all; they were staging a coup, bullhorns and all. We were just so wrapped up in the all the 802.11 blinky-light blinders, we were missing it.

What I just heard was, @JuniperNetworks   didn't buy a wireless company, they bought an AI/ML company in @MistSystems. The power is in the analysis, automation, and remediation on the way to "self-driving WiFi". #mobility #AI  #MFD4

Mist is not a wireless company.

So, then what is Mist? In my words, Mist is an advanced cloud-based analytics and action platform that leverages data, AI, and ML to create “self-driving” networks.

What that means is that Mist focuses more on the end result, the end instead of the means. The end is – an exceptional experience for users and administrators, and a network that can manage itself and “tell” humans when it needs the tender touch of human intervention.

It’s about the data.

I think it was Bob that explicitly said, “It’s not about the WiFi; it’s about the data.” And once I heard that I began listening with a different filter and it all started to click. “It’s about the data” — of course it is. The concept of Mist’s commitment to data-driven technology and the dream of self-driving networks is evident if you look at their org chart. You’ll see data scientists alongside product management, teams of closely-coupled professionals with different backgrounds are how this monster came to life.

“Great AI starts with great data,” Bob said, which is why Mist wanted to make their own APs to ensure control of quality data. The wireless hardware is just their means to an end.

Mist sends (literally) everything through its Marvis engine — every ticket, every request, every incident. Marvis analyzes the data, and data scientists continue tuning and tweaking the algorithms that drive Mist. More on Marvis later, as he/she/it/they are worthy of a dedicated post.

Marketing aside, what’s really different.

There are a lot of great products and great tools out there, and any fondness I’m exhibiting toward Mist is not meant to diminish anything else.

Having used (over the years) so many products, including of course Cisco, Meraki, HP (five portfolios), Aruba, Aerohive, Xirrus, Fortinet (formerly Meru), Intel (way back in the day), various RTLS solutions, and tools like Airwave (even pre-Aruba), Solarwinds, Nyansa’s Voyance, 7Signal, Cape and many others, I feel comfortable telling you Mist’s solution is drastically different than anything I’ve seen before in the market.

  • Mist is several tools/products rolled in to one (think AP, management, analytics, troubleshooting, reporting, and location services)
  • Mist eliminates the need for Tier 1 and Tier 2 support, period
  • Mist has features like automated RMA processing based on continuous health monitoring (even an integrated form that will give you a return shipping label)
  • Mist is designed for less bugs, getting features to users faster
  • There’s AI/ML value in their cloud management you can’t get from on-prem controllers/management
  • Their BLE arrays for indoor location services are absurdly cool
  • Their Marvis engine allows natural language queries from a single screen, presenting data from any/all sources in the manner appropriate- e.g. you can ask a question and it can show you a list, a trend graph, a dashboard, a config, a floorplan, etc.
  • Because of their cloud-native architecture and microservices, they can roll out meaningful updates WEEKLY with little or no impact to users
  • Mist is about using the data, not showing/dumping the data and making you interpret it
  • Because of the AI and automation, Mist can automatically adjust and manage the network in ways that would take hours manually with other platforms

The impact of being data-driven in a wireless market.

We live in a world when data is king, and Mist figured out how to not just iterate on existing technology but to innovate within the marketplace.

I mentioned earlier one of the differentiators was that the cloud platform is there to support the data and AI, not just so a manufacturer can collect recurring revenue on something a client could just as easily deploy on-prem. Clients will find the pricing of Mist very attractive, and I think moving forward Mist will be a huge contender in the marketplace.

They already have some large names and logos proudly flying the Mist flag including several Fortune 10 companies and (my favorite) Disney’s Swan and Dolphin resort in Orlando, FL.

They’ve taken away the complexity, replaced it with a level of automation that actually works, and if you remember nothing else from this article, remember my bullet that says Mist eliminated Tier 1 and Tier 2 support (needs), and think about what that means. Meaning, their system is automated enough, it just works so well, they (and you) DON’T NEED SUPPORT.

Standby for more on Mist and more from #mfd4.

You can watch the presentations from Mist during #MFD4 at

# # #


Author, speaker, and recognized authority on network and wireless security architectures, Jennifer (JJ) Minella helps organizations solve technical problems and align teams.

View all posts

1 comment