Last week, a friend of mine jokingly asked me, “So, what is Santa bringing to Cisco’s wireless customers this holiday season?”

I couldn’t help but grin because I already knew what many of you are now aware of: Santa’s wireless holiday delivery came early this year, with Release 7.4 now posted on Cisco.com.

We at Cisco’s Wireless Networking Group are really excited to show off this shiny new release. 7.4 is jam-packed with 40+ features to improve the everyday lives of Cisco wireless customers.

You must be thinking: But you just released feature-heavy 7.3 in October AND new products, such as Virtual Wireless Controller and the highly scalable Wireless Controller 8510!

So what makes 7.4 so special? We specifically chose each feature with the goal of creating an uncompromised user-experience while keeping wireless network administrators happy by making it easy manage their WLAN more efficiently. The 7.4 release specifically focuses on four main pillars:

  • Quality of Experience for Wireless Users
  • Improved Security & Spectrum intelligence
  • Improved performance for small deployments
  • Ability to deploy innovative IT services using mobile apps

We’ve covered some of the highlights from the release below:

Consistent Application Visibility and Control (AVC) for wireless and wired networks

With the Cisco AVC solution, the Cisco Wireless Controllers can identify 1000+ applications like Netflix, YouTube, Cisco Jabber with voice using deep packet inspection technology and mark the application flow with certain DSCP value or drop the packets based on the application level policy. For example, let’s assume a user is associated to a corporate’s SSID. He/she is attending a meeting through Cisco WebEx. While speaking during the meeting he/she had to send a file to the meeting participants over WebEx itself. With NBAR-2’s sub-classification, wireless controller can identify the audio, and file transfer traffic separately and mark the with appropriate DSCP value for these two different types of traffic for end-to-end prioritization.

It can collect various wireless performance metrics such as bandwidth use in terms of applications, and clients. Then, using quality of service (QoS), routers/switches can reprioritize critical applications throughout the network or deny application’s bandwidth use.

Cisco AVC solution consists of the following technologies

• Next-generation DPI technology called Network Based Application Recognition-2 (NBAR2), which can identify 1000+ applications and support application categorization, with the ability to update the application definition.

• NetFlow version 9 export to select and export data of interest, allowing easy consumption of application performance statistics by Cisco and third-party management applications

• Reporting and management tools, such as Cisco Prime™ Assurance Manager, an enterprise-grade infrastructure and service monitoring tool for reporting of application and network

Please see AVC solution blog posted in October:  http://blogs.cisco.com/wireless/application-visibility-and-control-cleanair-at-the-applications-level/

Learn more about Cisco AVC: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/wireless/avc_wireless.html

Bonjour Services Directory for Apple device services across L3 domain

As part of improving overall experience for wireless users, the introduction of ‘Bonjour Services Directory’ feature, enables users to access Apple services such as Apple Printer and Apple TV on different L3 networks with additional security controls, e.g not allowing students to access an AirPlay service but allow teachers.

Additionally, Apple users will love this feature, ‘AP Neighbor List’ which is part of 802.11k standard. This feature improves the battery life and roaming performance for Apple devices like iPhone and iPad. To further enhance the quality of experience based on the Access Point’s interface load, the wireless clients will be moved to nearby AP through additional ‘Aggressive Load-balancing’ techniques.

Please see this blog for more info: http://blogs.cisco.com/borderless/got-an-ipad-were-speaking-your-language/

Connected Mobile Experiences: Stay tuned for more on this early next year

  • Location Analytics:  includes the recently acquired ThinkSmart technology, which has been integrated into the Cisco Mobility Services Engine. It provides real-time location analytics alongside historical trends, enabling greater visibility into customer movements and patterns through trending data. Lines of business can better understand how customers behave while onsite by tracking Wi-Fi signals within their venue – documenting their movements throughout facilities and use this rich context-aware data for engaging with customers better.
  • Mobile Concierge: a key feature of Cisco MSE, allows engaging users through a native app on smart mobile device. It also includes the Mobile Concierge SDK, for an easy to use approach to developing mobile apps and provide content that is highly personalized for the individual and the location context. Mobile Concierge SDK allows end users to receive push notifications, seamlessly on-boarded to the WiFi network and receive personalized services.

Learn more about Connected Mobile Experiences: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/netsol/ns1205/index.html

Security & Spectrum Intelligence

The Cisco® Wireless Security and Spectrum Intelligence (WSSI) module, taking advantage of the flexible modular design of the Cisco Aironet® 3600 Series Access Point, delivers unprecedented, always-on security scanning and spectrum intelligence, which helps you avoid RF interference so that you get better coverage and performance on your wireless network

·         Always-on full spectrum monitor and mitigation for aWIPS, CleanAir, Context Awareness, Rogue Detection and Radio Resource Management

·         Always-on on-channel aWIPS threat protection

·         23x more security and spectrum coverage

·         30%+ CAPEX cost savings versus dedicated monitor mode access point

·         Zero touch configuration

See this blog post that explains in more detail about this module: http://blogs.cisco.com/wireless/wireless-security-and-monitoring-via-the-cisco-aironet-3600-expansion-module/

For more information, check out the datasheet: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/collateral/wireless/ps5678/ps11983/data_sheet_c78-720719.html

Scale & Performance – specific to small deployments with Cisco 2505 Controller 

Higher Scale:

  • 100% increase in number of clients support – Supports up to 1000 clients (currently it supports 500 clients)
  • 50% increase in number of APs support – Supports up to 75 APs (currently it supports 50 APs)
  • 4x increase in Rogue clients per Rouge AP, that is, from 16 to 64 rogue clients

Higher Performance:

  • 100% increase in throughput support – Supports up to 1 Gbps throughput (currently it supports up to “half” Gbps)

The Cisco 2504 Controller can also be used as Guest Anchor controller allowing up to 15 EoIP tunnels and 1000 guest clients.

Cisco Aironet® 1600 Access Points offers great performance, functionality, and reliability at a great price point. An affordable and secure way to handle the explosion of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) megatrend for small and mid-sized organizations, Cisco Aironet 1600 Series Access Points allow mid-market and K-12, customers to build the platform needed to accommodate the transition to BYOD networking.


For the complete list of 7.4 features and benefits see the product bulletin http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps10315/prod_bulletins_list.html


Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!