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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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Wi-Fi Roaming 101

Wi-Fi roaming is often a tumultuous subject.  The crux of the issue is, with Wi-Fi the roaming decision is left to the client.

In the recent years, there have been great strides in improving Wi-Fi roaming with the creation of standards-based roaming technologies.  Cisco first pioneered fast roaming many years ago with CCKM (Cisco Centralized Key Management), which was the foundation for 802.11r.  11r which was ratified by the IEEE in 2008, allows for fast roaming, even on a secure 802.1X SSID.  With 802.11r it is possible to roam without disruption during a voice or video call.

While client support of 802.11r is largely lacking in the laptop space,  there is large support in the smartphone realm.  Apple iOS devices have supported 11r since iOS 6 (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5535).  The recent Samsung smartphones, such as the Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3, also support 11r.

Note: Some non-802.11r clients can react adversely when connected to an 11r WLAN.  The current recommendation from Cisco is to have a separate WLAN for 802.11r clients.

802.11k is another amendment from the IEEE that helps to improve roaming.  802.11k provides a whole slew of information to the client, which allows the client to understand the RF environment and make an informed roaming decision.  This information can include channel load and AP neighbor lists.

11r and 11k help, however, that does not mean the infrastructure is irrelevant in the roaming picture.  With the help of a model train, we did some testing to figure out just how much impact the infrastructure could have.  We compared Cisco to one of our competitors, whom we will call Vendor A.

This video summarizes the results and shows the train in action, or continue reading for more details:
Read More »

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Wired or Wireless: Connect with Aironet 700W Series Access Points

Quality wireless is already considered a base expectation by consumers across industries. At Cisco we aim to provide our spectrum of customers with a whole range of high performing products, so they can select the product best suited for their organization. If you were to stop by the Enterprise Networking booth at Cisco Live Milan, you’d be able to examine our full portfolio of access points and notice that there are two that stand out from the others: the newly designed, 802.11ac integrated 3700 AP we introduced at Interop New York and one more, except this one can fit in your hand.

700

We are pleased to announce Cisco Aironet 700W Series Access Point, a wall mounted wireless and wired integrated platform. 700W Series is the industry’s FIRST and ONLY dual radio, dual band 2.4/5 GHz Access Point with 4 GigE Ethernet ports for wired connectivity, like IP Phones, game consoles, entertainment devices or other connected devices. 700W Series can be powered either by Power over Ethernet (PoE) or by a local power adapter, while it also provides PoE out on one local port to power an additional connected device. Read More »

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HDX Blog Series #4: Optimized Roaming

Editor’s Note: This is the last of a four-part deep dive series into High Density Experience (HDX), Cisco’s latest solution suite designed for high density environments and next-generation wireless technologies. For more on Cisco HDX, visit www.cisco.com/go/80211ac.  Read part 1 here. Read part 2 here. Read part 3 here.

If you’ve been a long time user of Wi-Fi, at some point you have either observed someone encounter (or have personally suffered from) so called “sticky client syndrome”. In this circumstance, a client device tenaciously, doggedly, persistently, and stubbornly stays connected to an AP that it connected to earlier even though the client has physically moved closer to another AP.

Surprisingly, the reason for this is not entirely…errr…ummm…unreasonable. After all, if you are at home, you don’t want to be accidentally connecting to your neighbor’s AP just because the Wi-Fi device you’re using happens to be closer to your neighbor’s AP than to your own.

However, this behavior is completely unacceptable in an enterprise or public Wi-Fi environment where multiple APs are used in support of a wireless LAN and where portability, nomadicity, or mobility is the norm. In this case, the client should typically be regularly attempting to seek the best possible Wi-Fi connection.

Some may argue that regularly scanning for a better Wi-Fi connection unnecessarily consumes battery life for the client device and will interrupt ongoing connectivity. Therefore the “cure is worse than the disease”. But this is true only if the client is very aggressively scanning and actually creates the complete opposite of being “sticky”.

The fundamental issue with “stickiness” is that many client devices simply wait too long to initiate scanning and therefore seeking a better connection. These devices simply insist on maintaining an existing Wi-Fi connection even though that connection may be virtually unusable for anything but the most basic functionality. Read More »

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Top 7 Facts to Know about Cisco HD Experience Technology

Last week, we announced at Interop-NY  our newest Indoor Access Point, the Aironet 3700 Series. This access Point includes an integrated 802.11ac radio and is the first and only access point to support a 4x4 MIMO on 802.11ac. This latest Wi-Fi Standard will provide wireless networks better performance and coverage, and address the demand for client access including 802.11ac enabled clients.  Whether you are in Higher Education, K-12, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail or other verticals, we are seeing our customers across industries face the same challenges: more users coming onto the network, more users bringing more devices, more devices that are only wireless connectivity (no Ethernet port), more security, OS and application updates on each of those devices. All this drives the larger problem of high density.

Enter the Cisco HD Experience Technology. Available on the new Aironet 3700 Series Access Points, the Cisco High Density Experience or “HD Experience” Technology is a suite of solutions serving up a feature set designed specifically to alleviate the introduction of more clients, bandwidth hungry applications and high density network strain in order to provide an unparalleled user experience.

Here are the top 7 facts to know about Cisco HD Experience Technology:

1. HD Experience Technology is a suite of solutions only available on the AP3700 that helps  OPTIMIZE performance, mitigation, scalability and roaming for High Client Density networks

2. HD Experience is a hardware-based solution on a WiFi chipset designed BY and FOR CISCO. This is *not* software features based on merchant silicon WiFi chipset. HD Experience includes…

3. CleanAir 80 MHz, where Cisco fundamentally retooled the award-winning CleanAir technology to provide the same level of granularity and accuracy of RF interference detection and mitigation across 802.11ac’s 80 MHz bandwidth…but it also detects and mitigates for 802.11a/b/g/n clients as well. Read More »

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