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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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Don't Miss: [Webinar] Preparing K-12 Networks for Common Core Feb 5

If you've worked on a K-12 wireless network, you'll know that one of the main customer careabouts is adapting to Common Core Standards. Online testing and BYOD places even higher demands on a high quality, high performing network. What exactly needs to be taken into consideration when designing these networks?

Join us tomorrow Wednesday, February 5 for a great, informational webinar packed with tips and tricks on how to design K-12 networks to optimize for Common Core. If you work in education IT or are a partner or network consultant that handles lots of K-12 school district deployments, this is the webcast for you. We're starting at 10am PST and will run for about 45-60 minutes--and there'll be a chance for you to ask questions directly to Cisco engineers.

Register here today, or read the full article: Is Your Network Ready for Common Core Standards?

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Is Your K-12 Network Ready for Common Core Standards?

What do IT and K12 Common Core Standards have in common? Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards. 100% of each of these states’ schools must update their network infrastructure to support the mandated online testing capabilities. Enter district IT.

Technology is a key component when it comes to achieving the objectives of these standards. The objective is to augment the learning experience through the use of wired and wireless devices and enhance skills such as communication, collaboration, research, critical thinking and tackling problems. The mandate is computer based assessments. This promotes more personalized leaning. The students are also acclimated to use technology effectively for productive life activities in the future.

The combination of common core standards adoption with BYOD or 1:1 initiatives, results in an exponential growth in addressing endpoints, bandwidth, and security. Schools are looking to upgrade their existing networks to be able to handle the current and future requirements of these standards.

Deploy K-12 Common Core-Ready Networks 20140121 Read More »

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Standards Boost Business: Competing in a Global Economy

S. Joe Bhatia  President and CEO American National Standards Institute

S. Joe Bhatia, President and CEO
American National Standards Institute

Guest Blog by the President and CEO of the American National Standards Institute, S. Joe Bhatia: learn directly from the American National Standards Institute about the importance of standards, how their adoption and promotion can help organizations innovate in a global market, while lowering costs and gaining competitive advantage

Author Bio: S. Joe Bhatia, president and CEO of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), has more than 30 years of leadership experience in global business operations covering engineering, governmental and congressional liaisons, external affairs, and standardization and conformance, and is a frequent lecturer in the U.S. and around the world on topics such as international trade, technical developments, commercial market access, and health, safety and environmental concerns.

As U.S. business and government leaders seek concrete solutions for job growth and global competitiveness, there is an incredibly powerful tool at hand that is sometimes overlooked. This tool can help U.S. industry tap into new and expanding technologies. It can help businesses out-innovate competitors in the global market. And it can help you cut costs and boost your bottom line.

I’m talking about standardization – and there has never been a more crucial time for American businesses to leverage standards and conformance to gain a powerful advantage.

Standardization not only informs the direction of innovation, it impacts the strength of the American workforce. Standards have the potential to accelerate the idea-to-market cycle, increase the number of U.S. products and services in markets worldwide, and save companies millions of dollars.

In short, standards have the power to turbo-charge innovation and fuel business growth.

But to gain the greatest advantage, you have to get informed, and – better yet – get involved. That’s why the U.S. standardization community has worked together to develop the Standards Boost Business outreach initiative. The goal is to help business leaders understand the strategic and economic value of standards – both to your company, and to our overall national competitiveness. Read More »

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Converge OT with IT for Business Benefits in Manufacturing

At the recent Cisco Live 2013 event in Orlando, I talked about the business value of converging operations technology (OT)—used for industrial automation systems—with IT business networks, in order to create more secure, end-to-end, standard communications and control.  Regarding business value of IT/OT convergence for machine builders/integrators and consequently their manufacturing customers, I referenced a case study involving Comau Group that Al Presher from DesignNews recently picked up in a blog entitled “Connectivity Enabling Smart Manufacturing.”

Automotive welding

Automotive welding

Comau is a leading supplier and partner for most global automakers, integrating welding and assembly lines that coordinate dozens of robots and ancillary automation across multiple stations.

The order-to-engineering sign-off cycle requires months and the consequent build and commissioning to full production adds many more months for a new or refreshed manufacturing line.

Multiple fieldbus protocols at the device level complicate both design and implementation, requiring more integration services—time and money—to make the system work.

By designing a converged IT/OT “Connected Machine” solution that utilizes IP-standards-based, off-the-shelf modularity with a network architecture validated for both business and controls topologies, Comau has been able to reduce engineering cycles and cut integration time by more than two-thirds.  Quoting an Engineering Manager from the company, “Installation, commissioning and debugging for 10 stations with 12-15 robots takes a couple days, rather than 1-2 weeks.” Read More »

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