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Cisco Clean Air Launch Today

April 27, 2010
at 12:00 pm PST

Cisco launches the new ‘Clean Air’ wireless technology today.  If you are not familiar with what is happening here, you owe it to yourself to check it out. We have a show dedicated to this topic coming up on May 20.  The promo video for that is below…but you can simply sign up here right away!

This is an easy one to write off as being simply about new marketing language…’CleanAir’…c’mon -- who came up with that name?   Well, it actually makes just a ton of sense.

The wireless we know and love depends on the use of unlicensed radio spectrum which is great for ease of use and rapid product development…but prone to issues related to interference.  Troubleshooting wireless connectivity issues can always be a challenge especially since it changes rapidly..a problem one moment is not a problem anymore.  If users even report issues, there is always this ‘how do I repeat the problem’ so that you can follow the scientific method and resolve it.  

Well the answer historically has been all about the use of expensive devices, many of which install on a laptop, and allow you to walk your environment and scan a broader range of frequencies and hunt down issues. These Spectrum Analyzer’s are fantastic to use..but they are, by there nature, reactionary.  They are an attempt to measure something as a point in time when in reality, your primary concern is how to deliver an ongoing service that will have unforeseen dynamics well beyond that moment when you measured.

Cisco Spectrum Expert, is and remains, the technology of choice we would of course recommend. Cisco completed the acquisition of Cognio back in 2007 to bring their expertise to bear here and now, with Cisco CleanAir we are seeing this technology with the awesome option of being delivered as network service with the 3500 series Access Points. The ability to embed this technology is non-trivial.

Accuracy and real-time analysis and response are just a few of the benefits accrued from doing this in the network so that monitoring can be done full-time. The wireless network can now become a living, breathing entity.  The integration of this technology however was not, as I first thought, the simple slap-it-on and market-it style of integration.  This required ground up changes starting with the silicon.  There have been very few attempts to pull this off among our competitors and the only ones that even talk about it reveal issues if you can get beneath the marketing literature. 

Without significant hardware changes, you cannot simultanesourly provide wireless access AND analysis. If you are looking for this capability, and it will eventually become de rigueur for all of our networks, then make sure you are getting truly what is being promised. More on Cisco CleanAir is available of course…but PLEASE don’t hesitate to register for our deep-dive episode on this, Jim Florwick, one of the best wireless engineers with a heavy duty background in spectrum analysis joins us as he and Jimmy Ray tap into all the different ways you can screw up a wireless network…May 20. Register now.

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