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Signals on the High Seas

I heard a pretty good story recently from one of my favorite people in the WLAN industry, a very sharp guy who recently changed employers. As I’ve not procured approval to use his name, we’ll forego that for now, but it’s a great story nonetheless and is an example of the power of social networking in the professional environment.

The scenario takes place aboard a modern cruise ship on which my colleague and another person in question has installed a vast wireless LAN; a total of 1,000 access points will be in operation by the time you read this, which places it among the very largest of WLAN’s on the planet. Ships, airplanes and cars commonly feature numerous types of wireless connectivity, including AM, FM, satellite radio, GPS, Bluetooth, mobile cellular, and more. Amazing.

The challenge in this story was that deep into the mobility deployment install effort, they ran into a major code snag. Fairly common if you’ve done these, in particular as the deployment moves toward two critical phases, incorporation of clients and layering on the security elements.
After lighting up the WLAN for the first time, they discovered the code in the controllers simply wouldn’t perform the functions they needed. Hundreds of miles from shore, and deep inside the bowels of the ship, they were in a bit of a jam. My colleague who is probably the best social networking person I know, sent out a tweet asking if any other engineer had encountered his problem and how did they resolve it. The result was quite interesting; within seconds, dozens of engineers from around the world had sent tweets in response. A number of them included url’s with an optimal code solution located.

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Is Your Wireless Network Ready For the Growing Wave of Mobile Tablets and Smartphones Hitting the Enterprise?

November 29, 2010 at 5:12 pm PST

Wi-Fi enabled phones and media tablet devices are fostering the next wave of enterprise collaboration. Over 208 million tablets alone are expected to enter the market by 2014. This wave of demand is quickly making its way to the enterprise. Mobile workers are finding the instant on convenience and portability of these mobile devices well suited for business travel and interoffice access to media rich applications. However, as the number and variety of these mobile devices gain access to the WLAN to support high bandwidth collaboration applications, IT organizations will need to more efficiently manage network resources in order to maintain a robust, high-performance wireless network. Is your network ready?

On December 2, 2010, at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, Join Cisco for a one hour seminar covering important wireless network policy and configuration requirements for delivering the quality, scalability, and 802.11n performance needed to support media tablet and mobile devices in the enterprise.

Is Your Network Ready?

Register today to receive valuable guidelines and recommendations on how to more effectively:

  • Design and deploy mission-critical WLAN to support Wi-Fi-enabled devices
  • Improve client reliability and coverage
  • Detect and mitigate wireless RF interference
  • Improve multimedia and video application performance
  • Properly configure high-density wireless environments
  • Enable a secure mobility client experience

Mobility Empowers the Virtualization Experience

Visions of the future vary drastically in popular culture, the scenes shift and circumstances can be an almost infinite number of possibilities, but what is one constant? At some point, the main character will inevitably interact with a thin-client device during a pivotal moment. It usually takes the form of a handheld screen with access to a limitless amount of media and data from seemingly anywhere.

Storage and compute power is good, and getting better—but I find it hard to believe the entire library of congress, and the tools to manipulate that data could fit on a tablet the size of my placemat. What does that leave? Virtualization and high-speed wireless access. You don’t need to store or process anything on the client, or even go beyond rendering images on the screen. Everything can be stored, provisioned and sent direct to you. The future is beginning to look a little more plausible.

This week, Cisco announced the Virtualization Experience Infrastructure (VXI), enabling rich media communication to virtual desktops. Applications and services can be quickly deployed across your entire workforce, and the many devices increasingly entering our lives. Fundamental to VXI is the secure, reliable delivery of media across the network. Much of it is latency sensitive, such as live video or audio—but regardless of the content, it needs to be delivered on-demand flawlessly.

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MHETAB: Students more dense…

…In terms of the density of number of devices that will proliferate University networks in the near future. During the Mobility Higher Education Technical Advisory Board (MHETAB) several representatives from colleges and universities across the United States echoed this sentiment.

There is a common concern amongst higher education IT professionals who are trying to determine the best course of action as students, faculty and administrators introduce new smart phones, iPads/iPods and laptops to the university wireless network.  Several of the representatives also stated that even though they are still trying to tackle the older requirement to have campus wide coverage these density challenges are looming.

Why do these challenges exist? As wireless networks evolve to a necessity from a “nice to have” it is critical for higher education organizations to find new ways to manage access while at the same time support a greater scale of devices with the same resources and budgets as they had when the user to device ratio was one to one. To face the onslaught of device proliferation these organizations are looking towards solutions to provide new and unique approaches to providing students, faculty and administrators the ability to have wireless access all the time, throughout the campus from multiple devices.

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PCI Base 2.0 – Don’t Leave Rogue Detection Up in The Air!

I have been preparing for the PCI DSS 2.0 draft released on October 28th, 2010 which is to be ratified in January of 2011. PCI DSS 2.0 clarifies requirements in many areas.

The draft 2.0 released yesterday has shown that there is little change in wireless recommendations around detecting the presence of rogue wireless access points. Actually the draft adds a little more room for interpretation.

In PCI DSS Draft v2.0, requirement 11.1 states that to be compliant organizations are required to “Test for the presence of wireless access points and detect unauthorized wireless access points on a quarterly Basis.” With a note that states, “Methods that may be used in the process include but are not limited to wireless network scans, physical/logical inspections of system components and infrastructure, network access control (NAC), or wireless IDS/IPS. Whichever methods are used, they must be sufficient to detect and identify any unauthorized devices.

As we examine this statement it seems to lend itself to more than one option. Perform a quarterly scan with a handheld scanner, rely on physically inspecting connections or implement an always-on wireless IDS/IPS solution.  I vote for the latter.  Why?

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