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Miercom Agrees: Cisco Controllers with Dynamic Bandwidth Selection are the Tops

Cisco recently introduced another addition to its Radio Resource Management (RRM) algorithm – Dynamic Bandwidth Selection (DBS). Previously, controllers only had the ability to automatically assign channels and power levels, while the AP channel widths were manually assigned for each AP Group. A choice of 20MHz, 40MHz, or 80MHz channel widths were offered within the Access Point (AP) groups, allowing for the APs to all be on the same chosen channel width. With the addition of DBS, the APs can now be automatically assigned to individual channel widths. This allows the radio resources more opportunities to fine-tune the network according to changing RF conditions for higher granularity.

Independent testing company Miercom recently carried out a full scale RRM testing to run Cisco’s DBS RRM against Aruba’s Adaptive Radio Management (ARM). This testing was performed to validate and benchmark the best-in-class radio resource management feature in Enterprise Wireless. The RRM testbed was designed to achieve real world apples-to-apples comparison between the Cisco 5520 controller with five AP 2702i against the Aruba 7210 controller with five AP 225.

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The result was a runaway win for the Cisco controllers over Aruba.

RRM is a vital element for strong performance and reliability of a wireless network. RRM involves intelligent management of the channels and power transmission of AP radios based on the environment Radio Frequency (RF) conditions. Cisco introduced RRM on its WLAN Controllers in 2005, and since then has been an industry pioneer in automatic AP channel and power management. Cisco’s RRM has evolved over the last decade to become one of the most important WLAN features. RRM is especially helpful for high-density networks where scores of APs need to assign the best possible channel and power plans. These channels and power plans create minimum RF interference and maximum RF performance.

Miercom independently verified the functionality of both the RRM and ARM over a period of several days to analyze the overall performance impact on the network. They observed each controller with different channel width conditions ranging from 20MHz to 80MHz. Typically the radio management algorithms for both RRM and ARM take a few hours to zero-in on what is considered to be the best channel and power plan by the respective vendor controller. Miercom allowed each test setup a period of 12 hours to settle down to the best possible AP channel and power plan. Read More »

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Miercom Verified: The Cisco 5520 Wireless Controller is Ready for Your Next Generation of Wireless Networks!

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Businesses around the world are moving their focus from Mobile Apps to Mobile Experience. With Wi-Fi extending reliable coverage into public places, your users are going to expect the same service from you—a dependable high-speed user experience. The problem is, user devices are increasingly demanding more bandwidth.

How are you going to meet that demand?

To help increase the bandwidth needed to take wireless networks into support of the next generation of devices, Cisco Wireless Controller’s Control Plane scale has improved tremendously. A comparison between the Cisco’s older 5508 and the newer 5520 wireless controller platforms illustrates this improvement. Due to new hardware capabilities in the forms of CPU, memory and software updates, the user authentication per second rate has jumped from 235 users on the 5508 to 764 users on the 5520, or an increase of 225% of user authentication capacity.

This increased authentication rate matters because the faster a device is authenticated, the quicker it gets to access the network resources and better the user experience becomes. Read More »

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This Summer’s Blockbuster starring Cisco Wireless

Last summer Cisco embarked on the ‘WLAN Express’ journey with the introduction of WLAN Express Setup. As I wrote about here, the Express Setup provides an easy three-step wizard to establish a best-in-class Enterprise wireless solution. These best practices are enabled by default, meaning that the solution is Cisco-powered and ready to go in matter of minutes once you take it out of the box.

When AireOS software release 8.1 debuted earlier this summer, Cisco introduced an enhanced WLAN Express Setup packed with over-the-air provisioning, enhanced search, new monitoring dashboards and companion mobile apps (iOS & Android). These new features took the user-experience to the next level.

Cisco Wireless Mobile App

As a busy network admin, there are times when your computer is unavailable but you need access to your wireless network. With that in mind, stay connected by using these newly created mobile apps for both Apple iOS and Android devices.

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The app allows for:

  • Over-The-Air Provisioning of compatible Wireless LAN Controller that enables configuration of best-in-class wireless network with best practices enabled by default in matter of minutes. Watch a demo here.
  • Monitor multiple wireless LAN controllers from same place. It provides real-time network issues with intuitive dashboards for network and client performance
  • Troubleshoot client and network issues through enhanced search functionality, enhanced RF and network details for APs and clients.

Read More »

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Aislelabs and Cisco Take Off

A CMX Partner Ecosystem Blog

Ecosystem partners are an important adjunct to Cisco Connected Mobile Experience (CMX). They augment the analytic and customer engagement capabilities of the solution with innovative business outcomes. This blog is one in a series that will highlight several of our CMX Ecosystem Partners. Today—Aislelabs.

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Based in Toronto, Canada, Aislelabs is a Cisco Solutions partner with a portfolio of advanced location-based technologies serving large indoor venues such as shopping malls, airports, big box retail stores, convention centers, and other large spaces. Working with the Connected Mobile Experiences solution, their portfolio leverages the Wi-Fi and BLE beacon location information collected and calculated by Cisco.

Aislelabs Flow: Detailed venue analytics utilizing anonymous Wi-Fi data with no required app. Taps directly into existing Wi-Fi and delivers highly granular, customizable analytics around customer behavior.

Aislelabs Social Wi-Fi: Social analytics for the physical space to further understand guest’s interests, demographics, and where they spend most of their time. Enables email and social marketing campaigns targeting guests as well as advanced re-targeting (social, display ads) once they have left the venue. Read More »

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Passpoint™ Wi-Fi and CMX Connect – Seamless and Secure

Throughout the next couple of months, I’ve decided to blog about the great technology Passpoint™ Wi-Fi and how CMX Connect can help. Since this is a series of blogs I’d like to focus this first installment primarily on what Passpoint Wi-Fi is. First thing to understand about Passpoint is that it is an industry standard that allows devices to connect to hotspots effortlessly and securely. Because of this, it’s a technology that businesses (and its customers) have long been waiting for.

The following charts depict top barriers for wider adoption, implementation and usage of Guest Wi-Fi. As you can see the seamless authentication is the top barrier.

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I’m personally excited about Passpoint because of the seamless authentication and security it provides. For example, today’s mobile banking apps have become so easy to use that desktop versions seem difficult to use in comparison. My bank’s app even allows me to take a photo of a check and directly deposit the funds to my account within a matter of seconds. However, I’m only comfortable with mobile banking when using my home or office Wi-Fi because I know they’re WPA2 encrypted. Accessing private financial information is definitely not something I’m comfortable with within a public venue, using an unknown Wi-Fi portal.

So while the idea of providing guests with Wi-Fi is a generous one, using it can actually put personal information and devices at risk. Guest Wi-Fi is almost always open and rarely secured at Layer 2 due to the fact that deployment and operation is difficult when username/password or certificates are required. Furthermore, if a business uses username/password to secure their guest Wi-Fi they’re left with the challenge of knowing how to smoothly create and distribute user credentials without losing the guests’ attention.

The process of accessing Guest Wi-Fi for me, and many out there, is less than appealing because of these security issues and the lengthy process they require before allowing access the Internet. To combat this, businesses need to provide guests with a no-hassle way to maintain and distribute credentials to the guests using Layer 2 secured Guest Wi-Fi. This is where Passpoint comes into play.

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint will transform the way users connect to Wi-Fi hotspot networks by making the process of finding and getting access to the right network seamless…when you are in a Passpoint-enabled hotspot, you’ll discover a newly smooth connectivity experience.” Read More »

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