Co-Author: Byron Magrane

Progress marches on. New standards drive technology and for wireless it’s 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6. The application, performance and reliability demands of today’s tech users and the plethora of W-Fi enabled devices are just too compelling. But how do you migrate your wireless network to the new standard without impacting your current network?

A new Wi-Fi 6 deployment requires a different infrastructure. You’ll need new access points, such as the Catalyst 9130, to support the key technologies of the standard, including MU-MIMO and OFDMA. OFDMA is ideal for low-bandwidth applications and increases efficiency while reducing latency. For high-bandwidth applications, MU-MIMO increases capacity resulting in higher speeds per user. Look at MU-MIMO as multiple trucks serving users simultaneously, while OFDMA is one truck serving each user.

And to take advantage of the capacities and up to a four-fold speed increase offered by the standard, you’ll also need to deploy switches that support mGig speeds. While that may seem like a heavy lift, it doesn’t have to be. Not with Cisco DNA.

How do you migrate your wireless network to the new
standard without impacting your current network?

Streamline the Process

Cisco DNA Center is designed to streamline the task of onboarding new Wi-Fi 6 ready network devices. What makes it different? In a word—automation. At the risk of oversimplifying the deployment process, you first decide how you intend your network to work. Through Cisco DNA Center and its machine learning, you can easily design and deploy policies and configurations that push that intent throughout your network. You no longer need to rely on highly manual and error-prone process, significantly reducing the workload for your team.

Cisco DNA Center Wireless Dashboard

In addition, there are two options within the Cisco DNA orbit of capabilities specifically designed for Wi-Fi 6 deployments—a Wi-Fi 6 readiness assessment and an embedded wireless controller. Let’s take a look at each.

Are You Ready?

As part of the assurance capabilities of Cisco DNA center, this readiness assessment lets you run a check on your network to see how Wi-Fi 6 ready it is. Do you have the necessary bandwidth to support the throughput? Do you have the right access points? Will your configurations support the new standard? With the resulting report in hand, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to get your network ready for Wi-Fi 6.

Easy POC

While the Embedded Wireless Controller on Catalyst access points weren’t specifically designed to ease the deployment of Wi-Fi 6, in practice, they provide an easy way to test a Wi-Fi 6 network. First, Embedded Wireless Controller Catalyst access points are Wi-Fi 6 capable. And, second, they are cost-effective, easily deployed and managed all because the management function is built right into the access point hardware. Your network deployment begins with answering a few simple questions using the web UI or mobile application and your wireless network is up and running.

This combination makes it easy and efficient to set up a proof of concept network in one area of your campus. Just install the Embedded Wireless Controller access points, assign one AP the role of master, and turn the segment on. You’ll have a fully functional and cost-effective Wi-Fi 6 network in place. You can test its impact and determine what you need from a capacity standpoint—especially for IoT.

The POC can help you refine your objectives and needs for your final Wi-Fi 6 network. You can install the identified access points and switches throughout your campus and branch environments. Then, through Cisco DNA Center, you can push those final configurations throughout your entire network.

Wi-Fi 6 is coming. And Cisco DNA can help you get ready faster.


Subscribe to the Networking blog




Daryl Coon

Cisco Customer Solutions Marketing