A modern-day enterprise Wi-Fi infrastructure has to be multi-faceted. It should be optimized, not only for high performance, but also in order for other areas to maintain a smooth flow of Wireless LAN operations. Enterprise Wi-Fi vendors offer various features to furnish the business requirements of the customers. However, not all products are the same, and the functionality of the features differs from vendor to vendor too.

To assess the performance and features of Cisco and Huawei enterprise networks, at Cisco’s request Miercom, an independent and unbiased testing lab, conducted a slew of tests and published a comprehensive test report of the findings. This blog will focus on the conclusions from wireless LAN features testing. To get an overview of the tested Access Points, Wireless Controllers and software code, refer to the recently published, Miercom Proves: Cisco versus Huawei is No Contest blog.

Application Visibility and Control

 As a network administrator, you need to understand what type of traffic is flowing through the network. Cisco can help you by recognizing and controling the network traffic with the help of the Application Visibility and Control feature. Huawei also offers an equivalent feature called Smart Application Control (SAC). For this test, ten applications belonging to four categories were tested to assess if the WLC recognize these applications.

Cisco accurately recognized all of the ten applications thanks to its deep packet inspection (DPI). Huawei’s SAC, could only identify three of six web-based applications and failed to recognize any of the remaining applications.

Passing three of ten tests doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

Client Profiling

Knowing what devices your users are using is an important piece to fully understanding your network. Luckily, the Cisco Client Profiling feature learns the device type of the users’ devices that are connected to the wireless LAN. Based on this information, a network admin can implement device-based policies in the network. This feature provides you more network control. Cisco WLC supports Client Profiling and accurately identified the operating system of a Windows 10 laptop, MacBook Pro, iPhone 6, and Nexus 5X. Huawei doesn’t offer any client Profiling capability in their wireless controller.

Interference Detection

The impact of non-Wi-Fi interference can be a significant challenge for any network administrator. Enterprise Wi-Fi vendors offer the capability of identifying the non-Wi-Fi interferers, but the granularity of the detection can vary from vendor to vendor. To gauge the spectrum analysis capability of both vendors; four interferers were tested on the 2.4GHz channels. They included a Bluetooth wireless speaker, a microwave oven, a video camera and a jammer.

The Miercom findings show that the Cisco CleanAir® successfully detected and identified all of the non-Wi-Fi interference devices. Whereas, the Huawei Spectrum Analysis only discovered the video camera as an “Unknown fixed frequency device” out of the four interferers. Not only that, but the video camera had to be placed very near (4ft away) for the Huawei access point to detect it.

High Availability

An enterprise business requires their applications running 24×7 and to support that the wireless network has to provide connectivity all the time. In the case of an event such as a switch port or a controller power failure, the enterprise wireless controllers must offer a failover feature to a secondary controller to reduce the downtime. The motive of this test is to find out that how long it takes a wireless controller to failover to another controller. In simple words, what is the network downtime in the case of a failure?

For this test, two Cisco WLCs were configured in Client Stateful Switchover (SSO) and two Huawei WLCs were configured in Hot Standby (HSB) mode. VNC screen sharing applications and a fast ping of 0.1 sec were running to measure the recovery time. The test consists of two scenarios:

  1. Loss of active link between switch and the WLC due to switch/port failure
  2. A power failure on the WLC.

In the first scenario, Cisco instantly restored both of the applications whereas Huawei had 16 and 21 seconds of downtime for ping and VNC respectively. In the case of WLC power failure, Cisco had zero downtime while running the applications. Whereas, Huawei had a considerable amount of downtime while switching from the primary to the backup controller.

The cliché, “Time is money” is a cliché for a reason; because it’s true. If your network is down, even if it’s just for seconds, that’s money that’s leaving your pocket. Don’t make that mistake.

To download the full report on detailed test cases, refer to the Miercom report.


Rahul Tiwari

Technical Marketing Engineer

Enterprise Wireless Networking