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The Foundation for a Business Relevant Network

With the growing influx of new mobile devices, connected things, bandwidth intensive applications and more data, the network is more relevant to business success than ever before.  Back in June of 2012, Cisco saw that we needed to move away from multiple network systems loosely linked together to an agile and simple infrastructure, streamlined policy and centralized management would be needed to support new business demands. We called it Cisco Unified Access and we aligned the solution to three pillars: One Network, One Policy and One Management.

For the last few years, we have focused on delivering new products and functionality under this Unified Access model. Below is a timeline of products released as part of the Unified Access framework. Cisco lead the way in delivering gigabit 802.11ac Wi-Fi., converged wireless control in access switches and through the acquisition of Meraki – a complete cloud-managed network solution.

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The timeline above doesn’t represent every feature and function we have delivered, but it shows Cisco’s commitment to this Unified Access model, both from a cloud-managed and on-premise solution perspective.

Today, Cisco is announcing a number of new products and new functionality to existing products that will help mobilize the workforce, secure the business and increase IT agility. The announcement includes the following: Read More »

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Cloudburst: iOS 8 Generates 50% Increase in Network Traffic

Many network engineers recall the iOS7 update on September 18, 2013 as one of the most historic download days of their network’s history. All the more reason for us in the wireless world who anxiously anticipated the September 17 release of iOS8.

We asked a few of our customers to monitor the effect of the software release on their networks and the results for the first two days are in. Those in the education and healthcare space in particular are filled with early adopters of WiFi technology and devices, and eager to get their hands on the latest updates.

Joe Rogers, Associate Network Director at the University of South Florida shared this picture with us from 1pm September 17th, showing 1 Gbps more traffic than he would normally see at this time of day:

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Another customer, Greg Sawyer, Manager of Infrastructure Services, shared this picture of the iOS8 effect on his network at the UNSW Australia.

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He noted that his experience handling the release this year felt smoother than last year, despite the new peak internet download of 4.65 Gbps and 21Tb downloaded for the day! Not too surprising when considering that there were 27,000 concurrent connections on the wireless network and approximately 60% of those being Apple devices.

How should organizations be considering and handling these network spikes? I sat down with Cisco technical leaders Matt MacPherson and Chris Spain (@Spain_Chris) to get some insight on the effect of big updates like iOS8 on the wireless network. Here are some of the highlights of what we discussed:

The World We Live In

The truth is, more and more services are being moved to the cloud—a cloud that will push updates to millions & in the future billions of users and devices on our networks. Read More »

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#IWANWed: Harness the Power of Web Within the Enterprise Branch

Cloud Web Security AAG ImageIn the ever-changing world of enterprise branch environments, a high number of businesses are planning to migrate their WAN to the Internet. To be exact, Nemertes Research (Benchmark 2012–13 Emerging WAN Trends) estimates that number to be close to 50%.  That's 50% of businesses migrating to Internet for WAN.

And why is that happening? Enterprises are trying to optimize their WAN to increase ROI. Internet has become a much more stable platform, offering significant price-to-performance gains. Thus, the growth of new cloud traffic, high bandwidth applications, and video can be easily load balanced across multiple WAN lines, one of which or both can be Internet links. Some of the enterprises go even further and enable local Internet breakout from the branch. Not only does it eliminate the need to unnecessarily backhaul the traffic to the corporate HQ or data center, but also helps to free up the precious WAN bandwidth for critical business related applications. This enables enterprises to provide guest Internet access within the branch and then slowly offer the same services to corporate users, both for trusted public clouds applications and general Internet access. Read More »

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Winning Back the Weather Radio Channels Adds Capacity to 5GHz Wi-Fi Spectrum

In my last blog on 5 GHz spectrum, I discussed the recent FCC ruling that permitted outdoor access points to use the U-NII 1 band (5150-5250 MHz).

But the story doesn't  stop there. As mentioned last time, there are significant technical challenges to using the 5 GHz band. It is not cleared spectrum. It contains incumbent uses that are important for national security and public safety. Therefore, it is imperative that Wi-Fi not create harmful interference to these incumbent systems. Cisco will not settle for less.

On the topic of interference, a particularly interesting component of the same  FCC ruling that opened the U-NII1 band for outdoor AP’s is that it also re-opened the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) band (channels 120, 124, 128) with new test requirements for DFS protection. Hold on, let’s backtrack a bit before diving into what this means:

What is TDWR?

In brief, Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) "is a Doppler weather radar system used primarily for the detection of hazardous wind shear conditions, precipitation, and winds aloft on and near major airports situated in climates with great exposure to thunderstorms in the United States." TDWR uses the frequency band from 5600-5650 MHz which is why wireless network equipment needs to be proven to “do no harm” to TDWR. If you’re curious for more information on TDWR, then please click here and/or here.

A Brief History

Many of you reading this will recall that the FCC closed the use of the TDWR band several years ago as the result of numerous reports of wireless equipment creating interference with TDWR. 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.

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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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