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Behind the WiFi Network @ Mobile World Congress 2014: Setting the Stage

Every year a new attendance record is set at Mobile World Congress by networkers participating from over 200 countries across the globe. This grand attendance of industry-defining vendors, technology enthusiasts and exhibitors triggers an explosive growth in the number of Wi-Fi capable devices being brought to the event. For MWC 2014, Cisco partnered with Fira Gran Via and GSMA to pull off one of the most successful high density Wi-Fi network deployments in the history of global tech events. This blog kicks off a series to provide a glimpse of behind the network, into the design stages, and the course of actions undertaken to implement a robust high density wireless network which served more than 22,000 concurrently connected unique devices and a total of 80,880 devices throughout the event. Full details in whitepaper here.

Setting the Scene

Divided into eight massive exhibition halls, Fira Gran Via covers around 3 million square feet (280,000 square meters) of area which also includes outdoor areas, restaurants, conference rooms, network lounges and a continuous elevated walkway flowing through the entire venue. Higher the environmental complexity, the more fun and challenging it is to achieve the right wireless design for a pervasive network that meets all the needs.

An aerial view of Mobile World Congress 2014 arena at Fira Gran Via, Barcelona

An aerial view of Mobile World Congress 2014 arena at Fira Gran Via, Barcelona

Generally, the physical design of large convention and exhibition halls bear an impish knack of unfavorable conditions for a ubiquitous high density Wi-Fi network, owing mostly to the lofty ceiling heights and construction components. Read More »

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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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Englewood Cliffs Public Schools System Rolls Out Converged Access

July 21, 2014 at 12:12 pm PST

Englewood Cliffs public schools system, based in Bergen County, New Jersey offers classes to children from K-8 grades. The school system consists of two schools, the North Cliff school serving grades from K-2 and the Upper school serving grades from 3-8. The school system utilizes cutting-edge technology to assist learning from the classrooms equipped with technology, the 1 to 1 computer tablet initiative to the 6th, 7th and 8th graders to upgrading to the best-in-class wired and wireless infrastructure needed to support the advanced technologies.

englewood

At a Glance:

Located in: Bergen County, New Jersey

Number of students: 478

Number of teachers: 39

Access-Points: Thirty three units of 3602i with the 802.11ac module and two units of 3602e

Switch and Controller: Ten units of 3850 Series switch, that offers 40 Gig of line-rate performance even with imix traffic. Wireless LAN controller functionality is run within the switch itself. The switches are deployed in stacks of two and the rest are single switches. The wireless controller functionality is operating on the main stack in each school MDF. Operating in the latest release IOS-XE 3.3.3 Read More »

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Indoor WiFi Location and Beacons: Better Together

wifibeaconIn just two years, indoor location technology has taken off and attracted a lot of buzz across industries, from retailers to healthcare. But it’s no longer a conversation about just Wi-Fi – the introduction of beacon devices, including iBeacon, has added a new dimension to location technology for IT and their line of business counterparts to grapple with on how to leverage it to better reach their customer base.

Some customers have been asking about beacon technology and how it fits in with Wi-Fi, so let’s start from the beginning:

How do beacons work?

Beacons are sensors that send out Bluetooth low energy (BLE) tracking tags.  These sensors can be placed around a venue, such as a store, and a mobile device can pick up the BLE signal and determine that it is in close proximity. When a mobile app is built off of this technology, it can be used in interesting ways to interact with the end user, such as notifying a customer of a promotion for an item they are close to.

I’m having trouble differentiating Wi-Fi and beacons. What do I need to know? Read More »

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Non-stop Wireless at Johns Hopkins Hospital

June 30, 2014 at 10:42 am PST

Johns Hopkins Medicine is one of the leading health-care providers in the US. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is consistently ranked as one of the top Medical Schools in the US and the Johns Hopkins Hospital is consistently ranked #1 in the US for 21 years in a row! In a previous blog in 2012, we described how the Cisco Wireless LAN controller 7.5 release enables wireless networks to recover with no client re-authentication in the event of a primarily controller failure. In this blog, I will share more details about unified access deployment at the Johns Hopkins Hospital with particular focus on the High Availability design.

jhu1

Patients are the focus at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Johns Hopkins uses state-of-the-art technology in their hospitals to ensure that patients get the latest advances from surgical tools, radiologic imaging suites with the best diagnostic capabilities to something as humane as sound-absorbing private rooms for each patient. Read More »

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