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Thinking Outside of the Building

You’ve all heard the saying “think outside the box” when encouraging someone to be creative and come up with new ideas, new ways to do things, new ways to…..just about anything.  Well, I’d like to take a small twist on the well-known saying and talk for a moment on how deploying outdoor Wi-Fi access points should be something you should be “thinking” about.

We all know that here in late 2013 almost everywhere you go, you can pull out your laptop, tablet, or smartphone and you will find Wi-Fi coverage, be it at your workplace, at a coffee shop, or in a retail store.  Why is Wi-Fi coverage so pervasive in these areas?  Because connecting to Wi-Fi access points and the data network behind them makes employees more productive, enables the coffee shop to be the new remote office (while selling more coffee and cakes), and provides the retail store the ability to gather analytics to better target offers for their customers.

Now let’s think about expanding this coverage to outdoors….outside the buildings.  The same holds true.  Providing Wi-Fi access in the surrounding outdoor locations frees up employees to take their laptops outside and enjoy a nice, sunny day while still being “online” for secure corporate email and business tools.  It allows the employee to connect to that important WebEx meeting he is running late for as he pulls into the parking lot. It allows the retail store to engage with customers thru Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) earlier and push offers to them as they walk in from the parking lot, perhaps pulling customers headed to nearby stores who might otherwise not have stopped in.

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Aironet 1530 Series Outdoor Wireless Access Points: Click to see comparison table

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Miercom: Cisco Aironet AP3702i

Cisco’s newest 802.11ac product, the Aironet 3700 Series Access Point is now orderable and shipping in the next few weeks.  The AP 3700 features an integrated 11ac radio with a 4x4 architecture and Cisco’s High-Density Experience (HDX) Technology.  HDX is a suite of features specific to the AP 3700 that delivers the best possible user experience, especially in high client density networks.  HDX is enabled by a combination of  hardware and software features on the AP 3700, features including:

  • CleanAir 80 MHz – Interference detection and mitigation
  • ClientLink 3.0 – RF link quality
  • Smart Roam – Intelligent roaming handoff
  • Turbo Performance – Performance with high client density

Aruba recently launched their 802.11ac access point, the AP-220 series, featuring a 3x3 design.

Miercom recently published a third-party evaluation of the performance between the AP 3702i and the AP-225.  The report consists of a diverse range of test cases meant to gauge real-world performance of the access points.  The tests include; multi-client performance, single client rate vs. range, performance in the presence of interference, and performance on reduced power.  Here are some of the highlights from the report.

Multi-Client Performance

The AP 3700 performed very well in the multi-client performance test, thanks impart to HDX Turbo Performance.  With 60 clients, the AP 3702i had a 6x performance advantage over the AP-225.  The AP-225 struggled to serve all the clients and only mustered 40 Mbps total.  The AP 3702i was able to transmit a healthy 236 Mbps, while maintaining fair throughput to each client.

The test consisted of 60 11ac clients, all associated to the 5 GHz radio.  The clients used were 10 Dell E6430 laptops with Broadcom 4360 three spatial-stream chips, 20 Apple Macbook Air two spatial-stream laptops, and 30 Dell E6430 laptops with Intel 7260 two spatial-stream chips.  Clients were setup in an open office environment surrounding the AP.  Distances varied from 10’ to 50’.

1-Mulit-Client Read More »

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6 Tips for High Density Network Design

The guys from No Strings Attached Show just published their podcast we sponsored featuring Jim Florwick yesterday and already the verdict is in: Jim Florwick is awesome.

For those of you who haven’t had the chance to download the podcast yet (What are you waiting for?! Download  podcast) or you have a few extra minutes to scan a short blog to decide whether or not you want to download the podcast, I asked Jim what his key takeaways are when it comes to high density design.

Here are Jim Florwick’s 6 tips for HD network design (for the REAL meat, tune into the podcast):

  1. High density client environments are quite common with today’s users being very connected – today’s users are always connected.  With planning, this can be managed quite successfully.  Understand the limitations, be aware of how legacy requirements will affect the outcome, and set expectations accordingly. Efficiency is key and removing some of the blockers (legacy) first is essential.
  2. 802.11ac represents another quantum leap forward in technology and will eventually allow a much richer user experience.   It is a transition that must be managed and balanced against your current mission requirements.  Evaluate channel/bandwidth requirements carefully.  Monitor the mix of client devices operating in your environment and update frequently. 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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Top 7 Facts to Know about Cisco HD Experience Technology

Last week, we announced at Interop-NY  our newest Indoor Access Point, the Aironet 3700 Series. This access Point includes an integrated 802.11ac radio and is the first and only access point to support a 4x4 MIMO on 802.11ac. This latest Wi-Fi Standard will provide wireless networks better performance and coverage, and address the demand for client access including 802.11ac enabled clients.  Whether you are in Higher Education, K-12, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail or other verticals, we are seeing our customers across industries face the same challenges: more users coming onto the network, more users bringing more devices, more devices that are only wireless connectivity (no Ethernet port), more security, OS and application updates on each of those devices. All this drives the larger problem of high density.

Enter the Cisco HD Experience Technology. Available on the new Aironet 3700 Series Access Points, the Cisco High Density Experience or “HD Experience” Technology is a suite of solutions serving up a feature set designed specifically to alleviate the introduction of more clients, bandwidth hungry applications and high density network strain in order to provide an unparalleled user experience.

Here are the top 7 facts to know about Cisco HD Experience Technology:

1. HD Experience Technology is a suite of solutions only available on the AP3700 that helps  OPTIMIZE performance, mitigation, scalability and roaming for High Client Density networks

2. HD Experience is a hardware-based solution on a WiFi chipset designed BY and FOR CISCO. This is *not* software features based on merchant silicon WiFi chipset. HD Experience includes…

3. CleanAir 80 MHz, where Cisco fundamentally retooled the award-winning CleanAir technology to provide the same level of granularity and accuracy of RF interference detection and mitigation across 802.11ac’s 80 MHz bandwidth…but it also detects and mitigates for 802.11a/b/g/n clients as well. Read More »

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