Writing open-source for system integrators is a challenge. To some extent, your users are your own competitors. But, why?
Today I stopped by a local Coffee Company location and played around with the Wi-Fi while waiting for my Coffee. To my pleasant surprise, it was clearly a CoovaAP based solution running the hotspot. Everything was, of course, branded for the Company and "Hotspot technology provided by ...". No, not Coova.org, but the local system integrator that probably sold a complete solution to the company. I left a friendly note and the integrator and I introduced ourselves to each other. True story!
It is great to see CoovaAP being used in more places. System integrators like this undoubtedly make up a large portion of the CoovaChilli and CoovaAP "user base". These projects are not exactly for the end-user, and need to be combined with more systems (RADIUS and Web portal) to provide a full service. It's to be expected that others, largely local system integrators, will use the pieces as part of a larger system integration, consulting, and support contract. The hope is, however, that their customers know the open-source origins of the final product and/or service. And, ideally, that the system integrator starts to consider Coova a partner, not the competition.
Easier said than done. The same being true of Chillispot, CoovaChilli and CoovaAP historically haven't had many contributors. I'm sure there are many modified versions of the code out there, but changes are not always required to be released as open-source and sometimes become a special feature of the programmer, WISP, or integrator. This is changing, however, with more contributions in the forum and networking in the LinkedIn group by those who value compatibility and having options in hardware / firmware vendors and back-end services.
Coova has a lot to offer the system integrator, and the integrator's customer in terms of flexibility and customization. CoovaChilli (in one of many firmware / hardware combinations) plus Drupal and the Hotspot module, for instance, provides a fully integrated and open-source foundation to build a custom captive portal application. Leaving only RADIUS left to implement - using FreeRADIUS (with or without JRadius), CoovaRADIUS, or any other RADIUS server or service.
For system integrators, Coova can help you fill in the gaps in deploying your RADIUS platform and service. For network owners, Coova can assist in selecting the right hardware, firmware, and service provider for your network. We also provide assistance to hardware or firmware providers wanting to integrate with CoovaChilli and related technologies.