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College Prerequisite: Wireless 101 @ University of Louisville

My dad went to UC Berkeley for engineering, and he always told us that his college life was the definition of minimalist: all he needed was his books, the library, and his intramural volleyball team, dubbed “Open Set” by his teammate (who was a math major). He is currently helping my sister move into her freshman dorm, and you’d be amazed by his current expectations for colleges. Of course they need to have cafeterias serving international fare. Of course they need to have gyms with ellipticals, treadmills, and pools. Of course they need to have libraries with state of the art resources. Of course he, and his child, should be able to get Wi-Fi on their smartphone and laptop in each of those places and everywhere in between! And that’s just what the PARENTS are thinking.

Just like the cafeterias, the gyms, and the libraries, wireless connectivity is not just something that would be nice to have, but a requirement to keep current and prospective students (and their parents, AND their multiple devices) satisfied.

IT organizations all across the world are faced with a ubiquitous challenge of how to handle the implications of BYOD. Corporations have the luxury of implementing a top down approach, defining and enforcing policies amongst its workforce; but  other environments, especially schools and universities, are faced with additional pressures from their user populations. Higher education in particular poses stringent demands on support and bandwidth for their own devices.

Meet the University of Louisville, 22,250 students strong. The problem: a legacy network unable to meet the current requirements of today’s higher education campuses. With 6400 faculty and staff across 8.5 million square feet and 114 buildings across three campuses, the growing organization needed a strong, stable, scalable, wireless solution.

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Pentagon Secure In Move Towards BYOD

Last week, it was announced that Cisco is launching “Public Sector BYOD Thursdays” in which you can expect Cisco subject matter experts to discuss the latest happenings relevant to Public Sector around the Bring Your Own Device trend (BYOD).

One of the main concerns often cited when it comes to adopting a BYOD strategy in the workplace is the ability to maintain tight security. With countless personal devices transmitting critical, confidential and sometimes classified data, BYOD environments demand structured protocols for device registration, policy control, communication transmissions and information sharing.

Developing these policies is completely doable, with the right processes and infrastructure in place. To watch the process in action, we can look to the Department of Defense (DOD), which on June 15 released its own mobile device strategy—a document that lays the groundwork for making secure employee mobility possible at the agency.  One of the goals in this mobile device strategy is to see if BYOD is feasible for wider adoption within the organization.

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Four Steps to Prepare Your Network for the Challenges of BYOD and Pervasive Wireless

I know BYOD is hitting close to home when I’m receiving notices from the local middle and high schools requiring students to bring their own tablets to class. It is efforts like these that show BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) as more than simply a marketing term being thrown around by various network vendors—it’s undeniably real and it’s all around us.

With that in mind, the promise of BYOD will come with its challenges—the deployment and management risks involved threaten to be a major headache for IT managers if they are not properly prepared for it. When it comes to wireless networks, preparing and planning for potential future technological trends is always a best practice. We know our customers will be faced with the challenge of preparing for BYOD, and we want to help. That’s why we are hosting a webinar called Pervasive Wireless for BYOD.

We plan to discuss how to best prepare your network for the challenges and management risks inherent to a BYOD deployment:

  • New user expectations in an evolving workplace landscape.
  • The enterprise no longer owns the mobile devices accessing the network.
  • IT has lost visibility and control of user devices and applications.

With BYOD, anywhere, anytime, any device usage is expected from the user, and the workplace is now globally dispersed with users touting mixed wireless devices. This paradigm shift calls for dramatic changes in how IT controls and manages users, devices, and applications.  It is critical to be aware of these challenges when planning, deploying and managing your network for BYOD.

To give you a taste of what is included in the webinar; here are four steps we will be discussing:

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Lost Not Found

A few years back, I was traveling in the Southwest. Since I needed to work while on the road, I made reservations for a hotel that advertised in-room WiFi. I guess I should have paid attention to the disclaimer that the hotel was “not responsible for errors or omissions.” The IT vendor that installed the hotel’s WiFi network had apparently forgotten the WiFi. And wired access. And any connections of any sort.

But I had work to do, so I headed to the lobby in search of a WiFi signal and a quiet corner. Unfortunately, the only thing that was quiet was the WiFi network. Even in the coffee shop. The barista served up a mean macchiato but still no WiFi.

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Wireless Security and Monitoring via the Cisco Aironet 3600 Expansion Module

A recent highway project in Orlando had proposed that an off-ramp be built for a future neighborhood and development center. Because the area was planned for future development, this caused some debate within the community. Some argued that that there was no point to spending money on something that might not be possible in the future. Others argued that it was good idea to build the off-ramp and spend the money now so when the neighborhood and development center was ready, a cost savings would occur since building it now would save money in the future. Both sides have good arguments and after some healthy debate, the off-ramp was built for the future neighborhood and development center, which both are now thriving.

Well, what does this have to do with Cisco and wireless technology? This is a good example of how the 3600 Access Point was designed. Even with the pressures of time to market and cost management, the development team took the extra time to add the option for future modular expansion. The same debates in the Orlando community took place here between development engineering and product management. “It will cost too much and delay the release of the product (especially in an industry where time to market is essential)” versus “Let’s have modularity so we can address whatever future technology is available so our customers can take advantage of it without having to rip & replace their APs”. We like to say we’re “future proofing” the AP.

Well, the future proofing argument won, and the 3600 was released last January with an expansion module for additional features and emerging technology. Already in May  we announced the 802.11ac Radio Module that will support the emerging standard.

Now, we have another addition to this expansion: the Security and Monitor Module. Read More »

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