Companies keep using the phrase “cloud computing” to describe their services. I don’t think it means what they think it means.
That includes Sequoia capital-backed Meraki, a provider of wireless networks and access points that users can manage through the Internet. Meraki announced today that it has raised $15 million in its third round of funding.
Meraki develops software and hardware to create and manage wireless networks for larger enterprises and governmental organizations. The company manufactures actual wireless access points that users can manage through web-based interfaces, similar to some other online companies that offer their services through the web. The company generates revenue from a subscription-based model that includes access to its web services and sales of its routers.
But that doesn’t necessarily make it a cloud computing company — it’s more of a mesh networking company, meaning it lets its users manage a series of interconnected wireless access nodes that serve as receivers and broadcast points. Cloud computing involves a series of Web-connected networks and the ability to run services on remote servers, not just having a web-based interface for software. Meraki does use a web-based interface to manage its wireless networks — but users can access their routers from the Internet by definition because they are planted on a network.
Meraki plans to use the funding to spin up its marketing efforts and continue developing new wireless access points. Meraki has tried a few marketing stunts, like supplying four square miles of San Francisco with free wi-fi, but didn’t disclose what kind of marketing plans it has with its $15 million.
The latest round of funding brings Meraki’s total funding up to $40 million. Google has also backed the San Francisco, Calif.-based company, which was founded in 2006. Meraki’s clients include Starbucks, Toyota and Stanford University, and the company said it has deployed around 17,000 networks as of the end of 2010. DAG Ventures and Northgate Capital also participated in the most recent round.