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Converged Access Enables Next Gen Classrooms at PCTI

pcti_iconPassaic County Technical Institute (PCTI) is a leading career and technical high school located in Wayne, New Jersey. Listed among the best high schools three years in a row according to US News & World Reports, PCTI is the largest school of its kind in the state and represents a progressive learning community both in terms of teaching and adopting technology.

Converged Access is a WLAN deployment mode that helps deliver common intelligent services across wired and wireless networks for security and policy, application visibility, network resiliency, smart operations and more. Catalyst 3850, Catalyst 3650, Catalyst 4500E switches, and Cisco 5760 WLAN Controllers (WLC) are capable of supporting Converged Access mode.

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How A School District Prepares for PARCC and More

CreepyKidIndian Prairie School district, the third largest school district in Illinois, conducted an in-depth investigation to develop an execution plan to adopt Partnership for Assessment and Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) consortium guidelines and meet the Common Core State Standards head-on. Their execution plan took them beyond the basic requirements of online testing to providing a secure, borderless learning environment for a variety of devices, over wired and wireless.

Not only was this a great opportunity for them to upgrade their network to meet the state and national testing standards, but also to lay the foundation for any future requirements as technological advances are rapidly changing the education landscape.

Requirements: 

  1. Meet the computer-based testing requirements under PARCC
  2. Provide a borderless learning environment through mobile and online learning
  3. A stable infrastructure that can meet the dynamic network demand
  4. Prepare for the growing importance of technology in classrooms, wired and wireless, with trends such as BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) as well as an increased use of district-owned devices.

 

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Going on the Mobility Offensive

April 7, 2014 at 12:31 pm PST

Are you still being ‘defensive’ with your mobility strategy? Truly embracing mobility is not about offering Wi-Fi or a comfy chair. Getting offensive with mobility involves the planned intersection of technology and business strategy allowing you to outthink and outpace your competition.

Episode 145 of TechWiseTV includes some of our favorite new stuff announced at Interop.

Watch the entire episode right now.

Quick summary -

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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.

1530_pair

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

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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.

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