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Fast roaming with 802.11r

June 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm PST

Imagine a time when the leading edge Wi-Fi was limited to deployment in select conference rooms; that was 10 years ago with 802.11b.  Then came the rapid adoption of laptops and the awe of laptops potentially outselling pcs; that was 7 years ago with 802.11a/g. It was at that time that Cisco innovated with a solution to stay connected when walking from one side of the building to another. The Cisco Centralized Key Management (CCKM), as a part of CCX, optimized employee connection and experience wherein the client does not need to undergo complete re-authentication when transitioning from one access point to the other.

Now we are in the midst of the BYOD (bring your own device) trend. Smartphones and tablets support are a necessity. For example, 55 million iPads sold in 18 months; more than ALL the Mac sales in 22 years (Apple, 2012). Voice-over wiFi was paramount to address (keyword = “was”). Cisco CCX advanced Voice-over-Wi-Fi hopped several steps ahead with power saving functionality through a packet buffering technology (UPSD), ensuring good MOS quality through Traffic Specifications based Call Admission Control and empowering the IT administrators to characterize and debug sessions through Voice Metrics. These technologies are tested and deployed in the market through deployments in healthcare and manufacturing customers.

These Cisco technology innovations are the foundation for the now ratified IEEE standards: 802.11r for fast roaming between access points, 802.11k for radio resource metrics and 802.11v around managing neighbor lists, beacon reports et. al. Now the WFA has announced WMM-AC and Voice Enterprise certification using these underlying technologies and standards. This should definitely help broader adoption of Voice-over Wi-Fi coupled with the recent wave of Wi-Fi enabled 802.11n based smart-phones and free applications such as SkypeTM or Google TalkTM.

Cisco continues to lead customer deployment through supporting the Wi-Fi alliance testbed, testing with various client vendors and shipping 802.11r solutions now!  Optimize the user mobile experience over wireless internet networks where the handshake with the new access point is done even before the client roams to the target access point. Pretty soon your wireless network will tell you where to go(At least which AP to roam to).

Apple’s IOS-6 now supports 802.11r and Neighbor Lists:

http://images.apple.com/iphone/business/docs/WiFi_9_2012.pdf

More innovations to come… Stay Tuned!

CiscoLive! San Diego: Time to get your BYOD on!

 

I’m relatively new to Cisco, and only 7 months with the Mobility Solutions team. That means I get a lot of great “firsts” to experience, and those terrific “ah ha” moments that sear through my brain as I learn something new each day. And one of those “firsts” is CiscoLive! I’ve been intimately involved in making it all come together for our Mobility Solutions team. So I know what to expect at CiscoLive!, and yet, I really don’t know what to expect.

 

With our planning and preparation for these five days in San Diego, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people and expand my network here within Cisco. The big “ah ha” through this process has been the discovery of Cisco’s pervasive and unequivocal customer-focused culture. It hasn’t mattered who I’ve work with, the overarching end goal for all of us is providing the right solutions to our customers, and making every customer feel as though they are Cisco’s only customer . It also helps that our mobility solutions are the broadest and deepest in the industry, as well as the most innovative. We like to say we are going “Beyond BYOD” – a complete solution that delivers one policy, one network and one management and ensures the best, most optimal user experience. Yes, it’s a marketing message, but it’s the truth.

 

We are going to prove that to you this coming week in San Diego. You’ll be seeing, learning and talking a lot about our how our mobility solutions really do go Beyond BYOD. A quick run-down by the numbers will give you a preview of how we will show you: 11 Mobility business-focused presentations, including a customer panel discussion on their Cisco BYOD implementations and experiences; 16 technical sessions covering everything from RF Fundamentals to Branch office WLAN design; and 2 all-day TechTorial seminars. You’ll also need to carve out some time to visit our booth (#850), because we’ve got product demonstrations that show how easy it is to set user and device policies using Cisco ISE, Cisco’s CleanAir and Client Link in action on our Aironet Access Point 3600 (in addition to some new features), and our Prime Infrastructure management solution.  I’m purposely vague about the demonstrations because we all want you in the booth to see them for yourselves. A couple of videos here and here will give you a preview.

 

We will also have a few things that will tease your brain and give you some laughs too. We’ll have a caricature artist available for a few hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to draw your portrait, digitally of course, showing you in your “ultimate wireless experience”. And, we on the mobility team are never without giving you some sort of challenge! If you want to study-up in advance, you’ll find the answers to our challenge questions (which will be available at the booth), when you watch “Fundamentals of Spatial Streams”. With only 7 minutes of great information, it’s far less than you’d spend waiting in an Apple Store to buy an iPad. Yes, get the questions right and you’ll have a chance to win one on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. And of course, there are great expo floor receptions planned on Monday and Tuesday, and Cisco’s customer appreciation event on Wednesday evening in addition to other opportunities to have fun.

 

Lastly, we have three meeting rooms with some private product previews. You should check with your sales rep to find out more and book an appointment, or three.

 

Even though it’s my first CiscoLive!, I do recommend wearing comfortable shoes that help you get from one technical session to another, or to a customer panel discussion, or to our booth to see our latest product demonstrations and talk with our wireless experts. So whether this is your first CiscoLive! or not, you’ll have plenty of “ah-ha” moments throughout the week! I know I will! See you in San Diego.

 

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World IPv6 Launch and the Enterprise Network

Today is World IPv6 Launch day. World IPv6 Launch is a follow-on event to last year’s IPv6 day where IPv6 was used for a day. The World IPv6 Launch is the ultimate recognition of the “world” turning on IPv6 and leaving it on: a true milestone for the Internet.

Cisco, along with major Internet Service Providers, home networking equipment manufacturers, and web companies around the world are coming together to permanently enable IPv6. So as we celebrate the permanent launch of IPv6, one may wonder how enterprise networks can benefit from IPv6.  Not only will IPv6 benefit the core of your network but the WLAN as part of the overall network will benefit.

In the past, the perception was that the US Military and China were the ones who were driving IPv6 deployments. That is no longer the case; the fact that there are a limited number of IPv4 addresses doesn’t just affect the just Service Providers but also large enterprise customers. Whether you are a large manufacturer with plants around the world, a university with a growing number of wireless devices or a global financial bank, you all can benefit from IPv6.

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To Keep Pace, Keep It Unified

A few weeks ago, I wrote about multivendor networks and why Cisco doesn’t get more credit for our capabilities there. Again, we can and do support multivendor… but I ask you to consider what’s truly best for the customer’s business. If the customer’s network is very basic or requires a specialty device that only one vendor supplies, a multivendor may be necessary. But, generally, a multivendor approach is a compromise that can hamper a customer’s growth.

Often the multivendor decision is driven by a desire to cut costs. While this is a worthy goal, initial cost is only part of the equation. The least expensive device may, in fact, cost more in the long run. More to support. More to integrate. And more in lost opportunity due to technology that’s just not up to the task.

One thing about technology—it never stands still. People and businesses continue to expect more from their network. And the best networks deliver. Unfortunately, a network is only as robust, secure, or capable as its weakest link. A network device that was cutting edge five years ago may now be hopelessly inadequate and unable to deliver today’s necessary capabilities. Adding new devices from a new vendor to an existing network only maintains that status quo. You’ll simply be putting a new shine on an old rock.

To provide a network that keeps pace with today’s advances, you need to replace old devices that have become bottlenecks with new devices that can support evolving technology. Or better yet, new devices that support and prepare you for future technologies. Because a device that’s only ready for today will be inadequate for tomorrow. Plan ahead.

So what about simply pulling the antiquated devices and deploying different devices from multiple vendors?

Sure, this would remove the weak link. And it would support a multivendor approach. But at a compromise. Generally, leading edge device vendors such as Cisco know their technology better than anyone else. They know what’s under the hood and how to get the best performance. They don’t need workarounds or customizations that can come back to hinder future upgrades. They simply work better together.

Take Cisco Energywise for example. Using this switching solution, you can control power to access ports for greater energy efficiency and significant cost savings. However, due to lack of management consistency, you wouldn’t be able to the same with non-Cisco equipment.

Or Cisco CleanAir Technology. This technology can help mitigate RF interference. But, integrate it with the Cisco Mobility Services Engine and you’ll be able to pinpoint and eliminate RF interference faster and with even greater accuracy . Why? Because CleanAir is able to use context delivered via Mobility Services Engine.

So, yes, a multivendor network will work. And it’ll usually do an adequate job. But as the network evolves to become the ecosystem for conducting business, connecting people, and controlling operations, is adequate really good enough?

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Laying the foundation for tomorrow: A New 802.11ac module for Aironet 3600

You no doubt already know about the coming 802.11ac wireless standard. And, if you’re facing a future bandwidth crunch due to the demands of increased Wi-Fi client density because of BYOD, you’re probably wondering how to prepare for the increased capacity and performance made possible by 802.11ac.  So what can you do now, given that enterprise-class products that support the standard won’t be available until 2013?

The Cisco Aironet 3600 access point can help you bridge the gap between what you need today and what you want for tomorrow. Deploy an Aironet 3600 with 802.11n, and you’ll get a future-proof investment that delivers industry-leading performance now—without sacrificing the ability to add the scale of 802.11ac later.

Take a look under the hood of the 3600 and you’ll see the only 802.11n access point on the market today that supports 802.11n-based  4x4 MIMO with three spatial streams and Cisco’s CleanAir and ClientLink technologies. That means you can get an average of 33% percent better performance right now on mobile devices, and use up to 38% less battery on Wi-Fi clients.

What you’ll also see is a modular slot. This is where the industry’s very first enterprise class 802.11ac solution comes in. Literally. When 802.11ac products are certified in early 2013, you can simply plug a Cisco 802.11ac radio module into the slot and immediately upgrade your access point to leverage the new standard.

This is the second module announced for the Aironet 3600, joining the spectrum monitoring module.  The spectrum module scans all Wi-Fi channels in succession (not just the one the AP uses for traffic), giving outstanding visibility for mission-critical applications, security scanning, and interference troubleshooting.

The bottom line is you can get leading performance today while you future-proof your investment for tomorrow. In other words, there’s no longer a need to compromise. You can act now and lay the groundwork for tomorrow.

Find out more about 802.11ac fundamentals here and look for upcoming webinars about the Aironet 3600 soon.

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