January 29, 2018. It was a cold Monday morning, and I sat sipping my coffee reading the release of the newest Meraki APs. The long-awaited and frequently asked for MR42e and MR53e. For years we begged for external antenna options in the Meraki indoor portfolio, and they finally delivered.
You can read the release post here:https://meraki.cisco.com/blog/2018/01/paving-the-way-for-smarter-wireless/
What you didn’t see when you installed them, is that they only run 26.x series code. If you had your network configured for 25.x, these APs run something different from the configured firmware. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, they were brand new, and typically hardware leads software development. As the months have gone by, I am disappointed that we are still running “beta” code for these APs.
Today, they are still only supported in 26.0 – 26.3, all of which fall under the Beta release of the software, along with the new MR45 and MR55 Wi-Fi 6 APs.
What is your expectation for how long a product should be running code classified as beta? We are closing in on 18 months, and these two APs still fall into the beta category. Will we see the “stable release” code for these APs in the next couple of months? I think these are questions that we, as consumers, should be asking as we evaluate and purchase products. Are these “beta” products? When do you expect to see the code for these in “stable release” territory?
While I’m poking a bit at Meraki for this, they are not the sole offender in this space. Some vendors hide behind “Gold Star” code, escalation builds and “Conservative” releases. Many of us have no idea what the code quality and relative stability of these are. Couple this with the fact that new hardware almost always requires newer versions of code, this is a perpetual problem that we face in wireless. At least Meraki labels the MR26.x releases as a beta.
While I don’t begrudge Meraki having the code in the MR26.x train for these APs, I think a little transparency is in order. I can’t go find what code these APs run searching the data sheets and the forums.
I’ll leave you with one more example. The Meraki Remote Desktop feature that is part of Systems Manager. It has been in beta as long as I can remember. I was unable to find when the feature was released, but it’s been in the product since at least 2012, as I found this youtube video where you can see the feature.
I will likely record an ToDSFromDS episode talking more about the ramifications of other firmware and software issues related to how manufacturers are doing code updates. I’ll update this when it’s posted.
For those of you who don’t catch the reference, you might need to go watch the original ghostbuster movies. Also thanks to @the_wifi_guy (Craig Schnarrs) for inspiring this blog post.