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Get Your WLAN Ready for Google Android L and Apple iOS 8

July 24, 2014 at 5:00 am PST

This fall your wireless networks will experience many devices upgrading to the new Android 5.0(L-release) and Apple iOS 8 releases (cue: IT managers groan). There have now been many blogs attempting to capture the enhancements expected with these releases. Today I am going to focus on describing how Android L and iOS 8 may affect customers deploying Cisco enterprise grade Wi-Fi networks based upon our research and testing of the Apple seed. Our verdict: Carry on with business as usual.

Here are four features we predict will have the most impact your networks:

1. Chromecast and Google Cast Enhancements (Android L)

Rishi Chandra, the Director of Chromecast Product Management announced that, starting with the Android L release, users have the ability to cast to your neighboring devices such as a TV without having to connect to your Wi-Fi network. In the demo, a phone used the cellular connection to connect to chromecast through the cloud. A variety of techniques are used to authenticate the users in the same room OR use a pin-code as an alternative. Users can Google Cast an ecosystem of applications or even their own applications over any Android or iOS device as well as Cloud based apps on Chrome.

Predicted Impact: Given that this feature works transparently to the Wi-Fi, it is expected that there is no impact on the WLAN in your classrooms or dorm rooms or auditoriums where this will most likely be used.

2. Peer-to-peer AirPlay discovery and playback (iOS 8)

Starting with the iOS 7.1 release, AirPlay devices will discover an AppleTV via the bluetooth network. Users could also secure their AppleTV via a 4 digit pin-code. With the iOS 8 release, Airplay devices can also mirror their content via Airdrop. This feature offers an alternative method for customers to discover and mirroring of Bonjour traffic without accessing the corporate Wi-Fi network.

Predicted Impact: Again this feature operates transparent to the Wi-Fi and therefore customers using this feature should not see any impact on the WLAN. Cisco wireless customers also have the ability to use the Service Discovery Gateway on Cisco IOS based switches, routers or wireless LAN controllers or the Bonjour Services Directory on AireOS controllers. Read More »

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Apple iOS 8 and MAC Randomization: What It means for Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) Solution

As you may have read, Apple’s iOS 8 will come with some changes to the way MAC addresses are exposed in Wi-Fi probe requests. Apple’s intent was to provide an additional layer of privacy for consumers and target those companies that offer analytics without providing any value to the end consumer. We’ve been getting some questions about what this means and how it impacts our Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX)  solution, so we wanted to clear this up for our customers.

What does this mean for you? 

First and foremost, Cisco has always been dedicated to privacy for our customers and their end-users. There are four aspects of privacy that are built into our CMX solution:

1. Anonymous Aggregate Information: All analytics are based on aggregate, anonymized location data.

2. Permission-based: Users have to opt-in to join a Wi-Fi network or download an app

3. MAC Address Hash: Users’ MAC addresses can be hashed before exposing to 3rd party apps

4. Opt Out: End-users are always presented with the option to opt out of location-based services

The true value of CMX analytics for organizations is in aggregate location data to be used for business analysis to improve the customer experience for end-users. Providing customers with high performing Wi-Fi not only keeps always-on mobile users happy and opens the doors to delighting customers with more personalized experiences, but also helps provide more granularity to those aggregate trends to feed back into the experience creation machine. Win-win.

What does this mean for our CMX value proposition? Read More »

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Third Time’s A Charm: Cisco is a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Again!

Gartner has released their 2014 Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure.  For the 3rd year in a row, Cisco is recognized as a leader in both vision and execution.  We believe this Gartner recognition is validation of Cisco strategy and investments for unified access, policy management and cloud managed solutions.

Cisco’s position in the Wired and Wireless Gartner MQs has been consistent over the past 3 years as the market landscape has shifted we believe validating our commitment to meeting shifting customer priorities and requirements.

Qartner Magic Quadrant 2014
This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The complimentary copy of the Gartner document is available to view here.

The 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure (Authors: Tim Zimmerman, Andrew Lerner, Bill Menezes; Published 26th June 2014) reflects the evolution from prior years and highlights what customers are looking for:

With limited growth in IT resources, administrators require one network management application, one access security solution, one guest access application or one policy enforcement solution with the flexibility to be deployed in a public cloud, private cloud or on-premises. This integration reduces the costs associated with the upfront capital expense of multiple network service applications each dedicated to either the wired infrastructure or the wireless or cloud components. This savings is also extended to the ongoing software maintenance costs of all access layer management, security and policy enforcement components.”

What Does Being a Leader Mean?  Read on for the full story Read More »

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Score for IT this World Cup

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you know that the FIFA World Cup is in full swing. Stakes are higher than ever as we move into the semi-finals with more and more people tuning in to cheer on their favorite futbol teams. In fact, FIFA just released a media release yesterday about how this year’s 2014 FIFA World Cup™ has set new records for streaming data traffic around the world. My colleague Ido blogged about IWAN helping with the bandwidth overload caused by the FIFA World Cup last week, so let’s dive deeper and talk about video and high density.

There is no denying it: your employees and customers are streaming video. While the volume of that streaming dramatically peaks around game times during the World Cup, it should be no surprise that today, mobile applications, largely video, are increasing mobile traffic across networks. That’s straight forward: apps + video = bandwidth drain. Combine that with the fact that people are touting multiple devices--think a laptop and a smartphone, maybe a tablet, too. This means high density--lots of clients and devices on a single network. These circumstances trigger three potential yellow cards to cross an IT person’s mind – let’s see how we can avoid them.

YELLOW CARD #1: Rich Media Optimization

As an end-user, the common expectation is that I should get the same crisp, clear, rich  media or video experience across all platforms—I don’t care if it’s my phone, my tablet or my laptop: make it high definition. This is harder said than done.

It is not easy to provide the same rich media experience across wired and wireless devices. Traffic from wireless devices has to travel all the way back to the controller in a data center and then back to an access switch before reaching its destination. It’s called the hairpin effect. The result is that video over Wi-Fi could look grainy. That won’t do for the current generation of high definition junkies. Read More »

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Staying Connected at Northern Kentucky University

July 3, 2014 at 9:07 am PST

Northern Kentucky University is among the fastest growing universities in Kentucky. It hosts over 15,000 students with about 13,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students. The goal of the wireless program at NKU is to provide secure, robust and ubiquitous wireless access throughout the campus, both indoors and outdoors. This ensures that students always stay connected and feel at home. The classrooms are equipped with smart technology to ensure that the teachers can benefit from technology when collaborating with students. The IT team has blanketed the libraries, the classrooms, the dorm-rooms as well as the outdoor areas with Wi-Fi. In the previous blog in 2012, we described how the Cisco 7.5 release allows networks to recover with no client re-authentication in the rare event of your primarily wireless LAN controller goes down.

nku1

At a Glance:

Located in: the Highland Heights Kentucky

Number of students: 15,000 of which about 2000 stay in residence halls

Number of teachers/staff: 2000

# WLAN clients: Approximately 8500 concurrent clients

Access-Point Model and Units:  1200 units of AP models including AP702W, 3502, 3602, 3702, 1550 and a few older Access Points which are being phased out

Controller Model and Units: 2 Pairs of WiSM2 operating in 7.6.120.0

Switch Models: Various models 2960, 3650, 3850, 3750X and 6500

Prime Infrastructure: 1.4.2

Mobility Services Engine: 7.6

 Deployment Details: We talked to Christopher Johnson, the Senior Infrastructure Systems Analyst II at Northern Kentucky University to capture some of his thoughts around their choice of this solution and the associated benefits. Read More »

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