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Announcing Cisco Wireless Release 7.5

With the prevalence of mobile devices connecting people and things today, we are seeing a base expectation for uncompromised wireless connectivity. There is no doubt that the trend for high performance, pervasive wireless is on the rise and will continue for the foreseeable future. We at Cisco strive to help organizations get ahead of these trends with solutions that can be deployed with confidence today.  That’s why I am proud to announce the latest Cisco Wireless Release 7.5, the third feature-rich release we’ve had in the last 12 months.

Release 7.5 enables mission critical wireless deployments with sub-second stateful failover for wireless clients, wire-like Gigabit performance with the 802.11ac Module, and a bevy of other features.

Key Features in 7.5:

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Success with Cisco Bonjour Services Directory

Have you seen this video?

For those of you who are not familiar with the technology, Bonjour is a multicast DNS(mDNS) based protocol used to advertise and connect to network services such as printers, file servers, TV’s. With the BYOD explosion and increased use of mobile devices for work in the office and classroom, Bonjour is applicable not only at home, but also in enterprise. Last Christmas with the 7.4 release, Cisco introduced the Bonjour Services Directory optimized for enabling enterprise campus environments to share Bonjour services across Layer 3 networks.  In this blog, I will share some details about how a K-12 school successfully deployed Cisco wireless solution to provide Bonjour Services. As a special treat, I will also discuss some details on Bonjour enhancements included with the upcoming 7.5 release.

St. Margaret’s Episcopal School (SMES) is a K-12 school based in Orange County California serving about 1200 students. The wireless deployment consisted of 30 Cisco 1140 Series Access Points , a Cisco 1260 Series Access Points and some Cisco 1130 Series Access Points managed by a Cisco 5508 Series Wireless LAN Controller. The wired access deployment included various Catalyst 3750, 2960 and 2950 Series Access Switches. Cisco Networking Assistant(CNA) allows them to keep a bird’s eye view on all the equipment.

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Wireless Controller Redundancy with No Client Reauthentication Needed

Last fall, I blogged about No SSID Outage or Access Point Stateful Switchover introduced with the AireOS 7.3 release whereby if your wireless LAN Controller fails due to some hardware failure, thousands of Access Points fail over sub-second to the standby controller! This is possible due to continuous synchronization of CAPWAP states, Configuration Changes, Radio Channel and Power, Roaming Keys and Access Point licenses between the two Controllers. This means even if the administrator changes the configuration, channel plans or the clients roam and the primary controller fails; the Access Points will simply fail over in a stateful fashion to the secondary. In this blog, I will share details on the upcoming enhancements to High Availabilty with the 7.5 release.

In the upcoming AireOS 7.5 release, we take High Availability to the next level with two critical enhancements.

1. Today, after Access Points fail over from the primary to the standby controller, each client tries to re-authenticate and the standby controller then checks against its CCKM database whether the client has already authenticated. At the rate of several tens of authentications per second, it can take anywhere from zero to a few hundred seconds for the tens of thousands of clients that are connected to a controller to re-authenticate. The client stateful essentially eliminates this downtime with sub-second failover. Thus the total downtime that any user running a voice-call or Citrix session experiences is 2-3 seconds that the application requires to reconnect.

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What is a “Controller”? And how many do we need?

Thanks to SDN, the “Controller” word pops up in many network architecture discussions these days. In networking alone, we’re already surrounded by many “controllers” and we’re busy introducing more as we speak:  For example, Session Border Controllers or Wireless LAN Controllers have been around for quite some time, and have recently announced the OpenDaylight Controller, the Cisco XNC, or the Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller. So what is a “Controller” in networking terms, and how many do we need in emerging network architectures?

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802.11ac: Is Your Network Infrastructure Ready for Next-Gen Wi-Fi Traffic?

The next generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac couples the freedom of wireless with the speed of gigabit Ethernet. This also translates in additional load on the backbone of the network, which has to deliver at least 3 times the capacity of the current gold standard, the 802.11n based network.

Cisco launched the Unified Access architecture  to scale linearly with the increased load on the network with 60 Gbps Wi-Fi throughput on the Cisco 5760 Wireless LAN Controller and 40 Gbps Wi-Fi throughput on the Catalyst 3850 Series Switch with a built-in wireless controller.  Both these platforms are based on the Cisco Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) programmable ASIC, which provides high performance and scale, common open APIs, and enables consistent QoS policies for both wired and wireless networks.

Aruba recently launched the 7240 series controllers with a throughput of up to 40Gbps claimed, with the same goal of delivering 802.11ac capable performance across the network. This controller is based on a generic network processor and not a purpose built ASIC like the Cisco controller.

Miercom performed a third-party evaluation to benchmark these products  using  IMIX (Internet Mix) packet traffic and test QoS traffic for high priority application.  IMIX is traffic pattern consisting of a preset mixture of small, medium and large frame sizes used to emulate real-world traffic scenarios in a testing environment. We wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of the results.

Performance

Cisco 5760 is six times faster and Catalyst 3850 is 4 times faster as compared to Aruba 7240

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The Cisco 5760, 3850 and the Aruba 7240 were tested for throughput using RFC 2544 and IMIX Traffic.  The Cisco 5760 and 3850 performed extremely well by achieving 50 Gbps and 37 Gbps, whereas Aruba 7240 fell short by just achieving 8 Gbps, which is 20% of its advertised throughput.

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