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The Future of Wireless: Times are Changing Before Our Eyes

We live in amazing times, ask anyone who ever had to look up a phone number in a phone book. In the past this was the only way you could find the number to your favorite restaurant if you wanted to make a reservation. Today, all we need to do is reach into our pocket or purse and grab our mobile device, open an application and in a few seconds (not minutes) we have the phone number. Not only that, but we can see the menu and make a reservation right from the device. Over time we have become dependent on carrying the world (both personal and professional) in our pocket. With mobility, we are always on, always connected: nothing—whether it’s your team’s latest score or that email from a vendor you need to send to your boss—is more than a quick search away.

What once seemed unfathomable, this way of always being connected is now commonplace. However, as the application developers sit and think of the next killer app, the IT team has to make sure the network can not only support this new app, but also assure the performance meets the higher and higher demands of new apps. This requires the network to be more application-aware. And the reality is that more applications that require higher network performance are coming at a faster rate. Add to it new devices that use these applications are becoming accessible to everyone. On top of that, the people that use these applications and devices are becoming more demanding in terms of reliability and experience. So what is an IT person to do?

“We were ahead of the times,” says Joseph Tufano, VP and CIO of St. John’s University. “But times have changed. You see it everywhere: for example, if you go to a basketball game on campus, and there’s a timeout, everybody is using their mobile devices.”

IT is always working to increase the wireless performance of the network. However, as more bandwidth becomes available, users increase their usage and consume that bandwidth. Read More »

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Bring Out Yer Dead: 5 Steps to Eliminate 802.11b From Your Networks

Now that US tax day is over, we in the wireless field can get back to focusing on P1: optimizing and maintaining network performance. Keeping your network in good shape is like gardening: if you don’t pull out the weeds, it’ll never look as good as it could. My friend Jim Florwick detailed the gory bits of the 802.11b penalty with its awful lag in efficiency and absolute waste of spectrum. I write today to help give you the steps to act on Jim’s order to stop the madness.

I liken this process to a memorable scene from Monty Python: You must “Bring out yer dead.” However much the first standard insists it’s still alive, let’s all be honest with ourselves: 802.11b is dead.

In memoriam of the first amendment to the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard hailing all the way since 1999, 802.11b was superseded by 802.11a and g in 2003 which are much more efficient.  802.11n was available in draft form in 2007 and was ratified in 2009 while 802.11ac was ratified last September. A few years from now we should be planning the wake for 802.11a and 802.11g as well.

Now is the right time to bury 802.11b and reduce the drag on your network. Let’s be real: there is a reason cyclists are not allowed on the freeway, and an 802.11b device will slow everyone down. Here are 5 easy steps for eradicating your network of 802.11b and getting on your way towards higher speed wireless:

STEP    1.         Identify any 802.11b devices on your network

All of the latest Wi-Fi connecting devices are 802.11a/b/g/n capable. So how do you hunt down the 802.11b-only devices? You’ll be looking for older laptop and mobile clients (mostly before the year 2005).

Cisco Prime Infrastructure makes this easy for you with a report on clients by protocol. It will look like this:

prime1 Read More »

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RetailMeNot Leverages Cisco and Plixer for WLAN Optimization

Founded in 2007, is the largest digital coupon site in the US.  They help hundreds of thousands of customers save money when shopping online. They are headquartered in Austin Texas, in the hip “Live Music Capital of the World”.  Since the company went public in 2013, the company has doubled the number of employees from 250 to over 500.

In previous blogs, I have covered what is AVC, SuccessEHS and how Plixer’s Scrutinizer accepts Netflow, sFlow and IPFIX exports. This post will cover how these key products are combined by RetailMeNot in their WLAN deployments to optimize and support this fast growing company.

Recently Michael Patterson, the Founder and Product Manager at Plixer, Matthew St. Jean the Marketing Manager at Plixer and I had an opportunity to talk to Tim Tyndall, the Lead Network Engineer at RetailMeNot.  Tim shared with us the highlights of the wireless LAN deployment and explained how they use Cisco Application Visibility and Control and Plixer’s Scrutinizer to stay in control of how their WLAN is being utilized.

Tim described the environment and culture that has become a huge part of the company’s success.  RetailMeNot  provides hip new offices for its employees with open work spaces and other awesome perks.

The Cisco powered wireless network supports this initiative. In fact, nearly all network connectivity is wireless. He said that employees are issued a laptop by the company and many carry in their own smartphones and tablets as well; Most of those devices being from Apple.


Employees can roam freely with reliable service that spans the company’s five floors. Even during large meetings where access density increases dramatically, service continues without any interruptions and the performance metrics they can obtain using NetFlow is exceptional and reinforce that the traffic is optimized. Read More »

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Cisco’s 802.11ac Portfolio Expands with the New Cisco Aironet 2700 AP

As a Product Manager there is some anxiety but more of an excitement around introducing a platform to the market. Today I am proud to be part of Cisco team that is  bringing to market the Cisco Aironet 2700 Series Access Point.  What it offers is a tremendous amount of power at a very attractive price point.  


We all know Wi-Fi is here to stay and is expanding all around us rapidly. That need for speed is exciting.  But what does that mean? Not everyone feels comfortable being on the cutting edge. Many of our customers are not as concerned about chasing the future and have more limited budgets that they hesitate to put down for the best AP knowing there are lower priced options.  At the same time, everyone is aware technology moves ahead with or without you, so they don’t want to give up lot of the new capabilities by going totally to the other extreme of not upgrading at all.  What they want is something that’s going to last for a while that gives them the advantages available today, but not have to invest a lot to get it. I equate this to buying something like a car.  A year ago when I was in the market to buy a new car I didn’t want to sacrifice whole lot of options but if there was one or two options that I could give up in order to save a bit of money, I was okay with that.

This is similar to what Cisco is offering with Aironet 2700 Series.  Customers have to choose something that they can utilize in their network that is better than any of the competitive solutions out there, truly built-for-purpose, sleek design on the outside yet tough on the inside and very powerful. Read More »

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Not All 802.11ac AP’s are Created Equal: Built-for-Purpose vs. Purpose-Built

As more and more 802.11ac devices come to the market this year, businesses need to make sure the best possible 802.11ac wireless infrastructure gets deployed to make sure those 802.11ac end points are performing at both the best possible data rates and application throughputs to maximize the move to  802.11ac.

Cisco’s Aironet 3700 with HDX Technology does just that. If you’re thinking that the 3700 is just another 802.11ac AP,  think again: not all 802.11ac AP’s are created equal.

To demonstrate this, let’s take a Cisco 3700 access point..


When you open a Cisco AP, you will see dedicated memory (RAM) on the radio chipset itself (one on the 2.4 GHz radio, another on the 5 Ghz radio) to ensure the RF packets get processed “onboard” each radio instead of “offboard” in order to reduce latency and any packet processing collision from memory contention on the AP. Additional packet processing can be handled  on the “offboard” memory that is part of the network processor portion of the AP platform as well. This unique, innovative ASIC-based Wi-Fi chipset by Cisco exemplifies the built-for-Purpose design, and is the hallmark of Cisco’s 3700 Series AP.


Contrast this with the competitive landscape that claims to be Purpose-Built, but in reality is leveraging off-the-shelf merchant silicon-based 802.11ac WiFi chipsets. Read More »

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