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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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Not All 802.11ac AP’s are Created Equal: Demand the Full Story

It’s always interesting and often entertaining to observe how competitors promote their products and what they choose to focus on—and more importantly, what they choose not to focus on and what they hope people won’t ask questions about.

Consider yet again how a competitor chooses to position their “purpose built” AP vs. the Cisco Aironet 3700 802.11ac Access Point Series.

This competitor frequently (and somewhat obsessively) points out that its 802.11ac AP has dual “active” 800 MHz cores while the Cisco AP3700 has only one “active” 800 MHz core. This is not completely true since it completely overlooks the fact that the Cisco AP3700 also has a dedicated CPU core and DSP for each radio subsystem.

Furthermore, it also overlooks that the dual “active” cores in the competitor’s AP share 512 MB of DRAM. The single “active” core of the AP3700 has dedicated 512 MB of DRAM. Also each radio subsystem has a dedicated 128 MB DRAM (for 768 MB total DRAM in the AP3700).


Why is all of this important? Read More »

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The other side of the jack: Is your Enterprise Network enterprise ready?

“Give me the best servers you have”, they said.

“Give me the best computers you have”, they said.

“Give me more mobile devices”, they said.

“Give me the network required to use all these things”, they (almost) never said.

The enterprise network is still very much considered to be just that hole in the wall next to the electricity outlet. It used to be that you came to work and moved the mouse to wake the computer. Later you plugged your laptop into that other weird looking jack labeled Read More »

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Third Time’s A Charm: Cisco is a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Again!

Gartner has released their 2014 Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure.  For the 3rd year in a row, Cisco is recognized as a leader in both vision and execution.  We believe this Gartner recognition is validation of Cisco strategy and investments for unified access, policy management and cloud managed solutions.

Cisco’s position in the Wired and Wireless Gartner MQs has been consistent over the past 3 years as the market landscape has shifted we believe validating our commitment to meeting shifting customer priorities and requirements.

Qartner Magic Quadrant 2014
This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The complimentary copy of the Gartner document is available to view here.

The 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure (Authors: Tim Zimmerman, Andrew Lerner, Bill Menezes; Published 26th June 2014) reflects the evolution from prior years and highlights what customers are looking for:

With limited growth in IT resources, administrators require one network management application, one access security solution, one guest access application or one policy enforcement solution with the flexibility to be deployed in a public cloud, private cloud or on-premises. This integration reduces the costs associated with the upfront capital expense of multiple network service applications each dedicated to either the wired infrastructure or the wireless or cloud components. This savings is also extended to the ongoing software maintenance costs of all access layer management, security and policy enforcement components.”

What Does Being a Leader Mean?  Read on for the full story Read More »

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Score for IT this World Cup

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you know that the FIFA World Cup is in full swing. Stakes are higher than ever as we move into the semi-finals with more and more people tuning in to cheer on their favorite futbol teams. In fact, FIFA just released a media release yesterday about how this year’s 2014 FIFA World Cup™ has set new records for streaming data traffic around the world. My colleague Ido blogged about IWAN helping with the bandwidth overload caused by the FIFA World Cup last week, so let’s dive deeper and talk about video and high density.

There is no denying it: your employees and customers are streaming video. While the volume of that streaming dramatically peaks around game times during the World Cup, it should be no surprise that today, mobile applications, largely video, are increasing mobile traffic across networks. That’s straight forward: apps + video = bandwidth drain. Combine that with the fact that people are touting multiple devices–think a laptop and a smartphone, maybe a tablet, too. This means high density–lots of clients and devices on a single network. These circumstances trigger three potential yellow cards to cross an IT person’s mind – let’s see how we can avoid them.

YELLOW CARD #1: Rich Media Optimization

As an end-user, the common expectation is that I should get the same crisp, clear, rich  media or video experience across all platforms—I don’t care if it’s my phone, my tablet or my laptop: make it high definition. This is harder said than done.

It is not easy to provide the same rich media experience across wired and wireless devices. Traffic from wireless devices has to travel all the way back to the controller in a data center and then back to an access switch before reaching its destination. It’s called the hairpin effect. The result is that video over Wi-Fi could look grainy. That won’t do for the current generation of high definition junkies. Read More »

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