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Not All 802.11ac AP’s are Created Equal: Built-for-Purpose vs. Purpose-Built

As more and more 802.11ac devices come to the market this year, businesses need to make sure the best possible 802.11ac wireless infrastructure gets deployed to make sure those 802.11ac end points are performing at both the best possible data rates and application throughputs to maximize the move to  802.11ac.

Cisco’s Aironet 3700 with HDX Technology does just that. If you’re thinking that the 3700 is just another 802.11ac AP,  think again: not all 802.11ac AP’s are created equal.

To demonstrate this, let’s take a Cisco 3700 access point..


When you open a Cisco AP, you will see dedicated memory (RAM) on the radio chipset itself (one on the 2.4 GHz radio, another on the 5 Ghz radio) to ensure the RF packets get processed “onboard” each radio instead of “offboard” in order to reduce latency and any packet processing collision from memory contention on the AP. Additional packet processing can be handled  on the “offboard” memory that is part of the network processor portion of the AP platform as well. This unique, innovative ASIC-based Wi-Fi chipset by Cisco exemplifies the built-for-Purpose design, and is the hallmark of Cisco’s 3700 Series AP.


Contrast this with the competitive landscape that claims to be Purpose-Built, but in reality is leveraging off-the-shelf merchant silicon-based 802.11ac WiFi chipsets. Read More »

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Deploying, Testing, and Tuning 802.11ac

By now you’ve probably heard quite a bit about the newest generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac.  I’ll save you the gory details, just know it’s about 3x faster than 802.11n and will help to improve the capacity of your network. Jameson Blandford and I were recently guests on the No Strings Attached Show podcast with Blake Krone and Samuel Clements (Click to listen to the podcast).

I wanted to follow up the podcast with a blog to go over considerations for deploying, testing, and tuning 802.11ac.

Considerations for deploying 802.11ac

Switching infrastructure

The first question you’ll want to ask yourself, is, if your switching infrastructure can handle 11ac?  The answer probably is, yes.  The things to consider are the port speed and power-over-Ethernet (PoE) capabilities.  You’ll want the access point to have a gigabit uplink to the switch.  Each 11ac access point could potentially dump several hundred megabits per second of traffic onto your wired network.  It’s also not a bad idea to have 10 Gig uplinks on your access switches to distribution or your core.  If you have even just a couple access points on a single access switch, you may quickly find yourself wishing you had 10 Gig uplinks.

Next you’ll need to consider how you will power the access points.  If you are like the majority of our customers, you will use PoE from your switches.  While 11ac access points require 802.3at (PoE+) for full functionality, the Aironet 3700 will run happily on standard 802.3af PoE.  In fact, it remains 3 spatial-streams on both radios, so performance does not suffer because you have a PoE infrastructure.

Will you deploy 80 MHz channels? Read More »

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IoE: Dead or Alive on Wireless

When we examine the average wireless client on a network today, we see a few options. There is the smartphone, the tablet, or the laptop. Even the Apple TV and Roku are often based off of similar technology and chipsets. All of these devices connect to a wide range of services, often consuming large amounts of bandwidth: we stream music while we browse; we video chat with friends, family, and coworkers across the globe; catch up on our favorite shows or sports teams. Occasionally, we do all of these things at the same time.

Our current wireless networks are built to handle this type of traffic. With 802.11AC, it is clear that we will be ready for anything that our standard client will encounter in the near future.  But what happens when the standard client model is broken?  The increasing shift to an Internet of Everything (IoE) forces us to face this question about the future of wireless clients.

There are lots IoE devices already on the market, and the next couple of years will see developments not that dissimilar from those during the “internet revolution” of the late 90’s. Finally, the average user will have the access and the ability to afford the smart homes we have been dreaming of for the past thirty-plus years. Read More »

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Gadget Geeks Require a High Density Wi-Fi Network. Learn Design Best Practices









Last year at Interop New York, Sujai Hajela, VP/GM Cisco Wireless presented a Keynote: Mobility and the Social Enterprise.  He asked the audience to show a raise of hands to see how many devices people were carrying.  As you would expect, there were plenty of people with 5 or more devices—some with as many as 7!

Similar to IT industry veterans, college students are also gadget geeks. Charles E. Spurgeon, Senior Network Architect at the University of Texas sees most students carrying 2-3 devices—typically a laptop, smartphone and some students also carry iPads.  Last Wednesday, more than 2 million pre-orders were placed within 24 hours of Apple announcing the iPhone 5—I’m sure many college students, Interop attendees, and gadget geeks were among those first orders.  

So what’s an IT director to do with all these devices on their network? How do you design a network to accommodate the influx of users, devices, and applications on your wireless network?

Read More »

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Four Steps to Prepare Your Network for the Challenges of BYOD and Pervasive Wireless

I know BYOD is hitting close to home when I’m receiving notices from the local middle and high schools requiring students to bring their own tablets to class. It is efforts like these that show BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) as more than simply a marketing term being thrown around by various network vendors—it’s undeniably real and it’s all around us.

With that in mind, the promise of BYOD will come with its challenges—the deployment and management risks involved threaten to be a major headache for IT managers if they are not properly prepared for it. When it comes to wireless networks, preparing and planning for potential future technological trends is always a best practice. We know our customers will be faced with the challenge of preparing for BYOD, and we want to help. That’s why we are hosting a webinar called Pervasive Wireless for BYOD.

We plan to discuss how to best prepare your network for the challenges and management risks inherent to a BYOD deployment:

  • New user expectations in an evolving workplace landscape.
  • The enterprise no longer owns the mobile devices accessing the network.
  • IT has lost visibility and control of user devices and applications.

With BYOD, anywhere, anytime, any device usage is expected from the user, and the workplace is now globally dispersed with users touting mixed wireless devices. This paradigm shift calls for dramatic changes in how IT controls and manages users, devices, and applications.  It is critical to be aware of these challenges when planning, deploying and managing your network for BYOD.

To give you a taste of what is included in the webinar; here are four steps we will be discussing:

Read More »

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