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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:

usf

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

unsw

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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Congratulations to 2013 IEEE-SA International Award Recipient Andrew Myles

ieeeEarlier this week, the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) announced the winners of the 2013 IEEE-SA Awards to honor standards development contributions. We are pleased to announce that Andrew Myles, Engineering Technical Lead at Cisco has been awarded the IEEE 802 SA International award for his extraordinary contribution to establishing IEEE-SA as a world-class leader in standardization.  Andrew has long been involved in IEEE-SA and led a long term initiative (2005-2013) in IEEE 802 to defend and promote IEEE 802 standards globally.

We want to congratulate Andrew on this tremendous recognition. The work of Andrew and others  contributors develop and promote high quality, efficient and effective IEEE standards.  This enables the Internet and the supporting network components to be the premiere platforms for innovation and borderless commerce they are today. These standards in turn are reflected in our products and solutions for our customers.  As we develop technological innovation for our customers, in parallel, we continue to drive global standards deployment. The results are the best innovative solutions that can solve and better our customers’ network environments. Read More »

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Deep Dive: Mobility Services APIs (with Sample Code!)

Last week, my colleague Rajiv walked you through an overview of how our Mobility Services API now supports REST based APIs. As a developer for the Mobility Services Engine (MSE) team, I am very excited about this update because it means that it will be easier for developers to create apps using the MS-API, which hopefully means that more and more organizations will be able to take advantage of the location-based services and functionalities of the MSE. I’m going use this blog to walk you through some of the more technical aspects of the change.

The Basics

The REST API is now widely used in the field of API based web applications. The REST stands for REpresentational State Transfer. It is an architecture that is based on set of six rules, and APIs that support REST follow all those rules, making them RESTful.

Compared to SOAP, REST has better performance, scalability, simplicity, modifiability, visibility, portability, and reliability. For secured REST API transactions, HTTPS is recommended.

RESTful Mobility Services API

7.5 applications, including features from the Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) solution such as Browser Engage and CMX Analytics, are now supporting REST APIs in addition to the existing SOAP APIs previous releases (backward compatibility).

CMX utilizes the basic authentication scheme to authenticate each REST API request. It utilizes the Authorization header in the HTTP packet. The Authorization header is composed as follows:

- Username and password are combined into a string “username:password”.
- The resulting string literal is then encoded using Base64.
- The authorization method, a space and the string “Basic” is then put before the encoded string.

The API credentials can be accessed from Prime Infrastructure (PI), which manages CMX (page is located under Mobility Services > Specific MSE > System > Users).

As Rajiv mentioned last week, the Mobility Services REST APIs can be grouped in the following way:

-          MAP APIs

-          Real time location APIs

-          Location history APIs

-          Notification APIs

Let’s break them down with use cases to get a better picture of when you’d use which. Read More »

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Engineers, Researchers and Designers: The Geeks Behind Cisco’s Collaboration Technology

It’s a great time to be at Cisco. Earlier this week, Susie Wee, chief technology and experience officer (CTEO) for the Collaboration Technology Group, unveiled the “collaboration geeks”: the engineers, researchers and designers behind the technology, to a handful of press and analysts. We were excited (and a bit nervous!) to share how Cisco is approaching user experience (UE) and design. These changes aren’t just happening from the product side, but are also evolving our internal thinking about being more user-centric across the organization.

Have you ever heard of a CTEO? Probably not, because it is a new role that we created to address the importance of coupling user experience and technology. As CTEO, Susie is responsible for driving innovation and experience design in Cisco’s collaboration products and software services. The first step involved in making a cultural change is how we approach product design. But what does this mean for her team? Below is a short excerpt from our User Experience Day event.

At Cisco, we’re dedicated to changing the way we work, live, play and learn. We’re always looking to break down barriers among staff; one example is how we’re approaching user experience design. Our team is looking into principles, guidelines, and archetypes that represent an organizational-wide approach to user experience design. The design team really lays the foundation for growing the influence and scope of all the UE specialists into strategic conversations where user experience can impact what we design and how we design. We coined the term “XQ” as the eXperience Quotient of the organization. XQ is a tool and metric that we developed to measure our customer’s experience with our products and our user experience-centric development process.

Another example is how our engineers are thinking about their products from the user perspective and pulling in the user experience designers and my team (user experience researchers) as well. To showcase this at the event, engineers brought in a number of XQ demos to show this thinking firsthand: Read More »

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802.11i, Authentication and You

January 4, 2012 at 5:00 am PST

Not too long ago I was assigned to a troubleshooting and remediation project for a hospital here in the SF bay area. The problem, after much troubleshooting and lab recreations, was determined to be due to an unique issue with client roaming and authentication. During the course of troubleshooting my coworker and myself often found ourselves explaining 802.1X and 802.11i to others working on the troubleshooting effort, or requesting technical updates. So based on that experience, I started thinking this might a be a good topic to cover here.

Let’s review the some of typical components of the enterprise wireless security model.

What is 802.1X?
802.1X is not a protocol, but rather a framework for a “port-based” access control method.  802.1X was initially created for use in switches, hence the port-based terminology, which really doesn’t fit too well in wireless since users don’t connect to a port. In the end it’s meant to be a logical concept in the 802.11 world.  802.1X was adopted for wireless networks with the creation of 802.11i to provide authenticated access to wireless networks. At a high level. the framework allows for a client that has connected to the WLAN to remain in a blocked port status until it has been authenticated by a AAA server. Essentially the only traffic allow through this virtual blocked port is EAP traffic, things like HTTP would be dropped.

What is EAP?

EAP  (Extensible Authentication Protocol) is the authentication method used by 802.1X. It can take on various forms, such as PEAP, EAP-TLS, EAP-FAST, to name a few. There is one thing to remember when determining what EAP type to use in your network, is that it is dependent upon what your client and AAA server supports. This is it, your AP or AP/Controller hardware or code version will play no part in version is supported. Unless your AP/controller is acting as the AAA server, but I’ll stay away from that in this post. I think this can be a point of confusion for people who haven’t read much or anything about EAP methods. So, if some one asks what version of EAP the AP will support, all you need to do is ask them, what does their Client and AAA server support.

What is 802.11i?

Simply put, 802.11i is an amendment to the original 802.11 standard to address the well documented security short comings of WEP. It incorporates WPA  as a part of the 802.11i amendment and adds the fully approved WPA2 with AES encryption method. 802.11i  introduces the concept of a Robust Security Network (RSN) with the Four-way handshake and the Group key Handshake.

Read More »

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