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Business Benefits of Universal Intelligent Access Demonstrated at Cisco’s UK Showcase

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 4.52.42 AMGuest Blog written by Scott Morrison, Vice President SCTG – Small Cell Eng

Enterprises have long recognised the benefits of wireless – to enable faster, more productive working processes and a more empowered, more flexible workforce. After all, it is the enterprise sector that pioneered Wi-Fi deployments, often working with service providers, and it represents a significant business for Cisco worldwide. But the feedback from our enterprise partners is that businesses are hungry to build on this wireless foundation. Specifically, they want to extend the reach and power of their applications by combining the power of their Wi-Fi networks with the universal service of cellular networks.

Business BenefitsBusinesses want a simpler approach to mobile and they want it everywhere. For example, many workforce and process automation systems are isolated in individual locations today. Blending indoor Wi-Fi with cellular networks will help these systems to make faster, better and in time more predictive decisions.

This presents a both a challenge and a huge opportunity for service providers. Read More »

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Enhancing HDX: Improved Mitigation of Wi-Fi Interference through Wi-Fi-Triggered Event-Driven Radio Resource Management (ED-RRM)

Cisco Systems is announcing a new set of features that enhance its HDX (High Density Experience) suite. This blog is the fourth in a series that explains the new features that comprise the enhancements to HDX.

The first three blogs in the Enhancing HDX series are here and here and here.

The rapid and massive adoption of Wi-Fi into handheld devices has created new challenges for managing a wireless network.

As a consequence, the traditional view of a rogue Access Point has to change. The advent of mobile APs and Wi-Fi Direct (client to client networking without requiring infrastructure) means that rogue devices don’t need to be “connected” to the infrastructure in order to create a potential for nuisance.

Effectively these capabilities mean that “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) may also mean “Bring Your Own AP” or “Bring Your Own Network” and therefore “Bring Your Own Interferer”. Thus the threat from a rogue becomes less about security and more about consuming excessive air time (a so-called “spectrum hog”) thus degrading performance in the WLAN. This can be especially troublesome in high density pubic venues but can also be problematic in enterprises.

So in addition to Cisco CleanAir (which mitigates and reports on non Wi-Fi interference) and RRM (which primarily prevents self induced neighboring AP interference via DCA and TPC for the entire WLAN) Cisco is effectively merging aspects of both of these solutions in order to provide improved mitigation of Wi-Fi that is not affiliated with the production WLAN.

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Accounting for rogue Wi-Fi interference is accomplished by configuring a trigger threshold for ED-RRM. This is effectively a severity indicator so that the affected access point that has ED-RRM is additionally triggered by Wi-Fi interference.

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Since rogue severity is now added to the ED-RRM metrics, this provides the capability of a faster channel change than the typical DCA cycle. In other words, if a rogue is interfering with airspace, then instead of waiting until the next DCA cycle to elapse, change the channel as quickly as possible. This is the same behavior as for mitigating non-Wi-Fi interferers with Cisco CleanAir technology.

Since Wi-Fi interference is becoming more prevalent, rogue APs that are serving traffic to clients (e.g., mobile APs) or client devices creating networks in real time means that air quality will be affected. Wi-Fi needs to be prevented from becoming a problem by reacting to the presence of client devices that are legitimately acting as independent, unaffiliated networks.

 

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Why Your In-Store Web, Mobile, and Video Experiences Matter

The lines between offline and online experiences are blurring. Customers no longer go online, they are online 24/7, and that includes inside your stores. In fact according to recent Google research, 89% of smartphone users leverage their smartphones while shopping in stores. And close to 70% of those used it to look at the retailer’s site and 21% look at apps.

Furthermore, according to Laura Wade-Gery, executive director of Multi-channel eCommerce for Marks & Spencer, “Shoppers who shop on our website as well as in our stores spend four times as much; throw smartphones into the mix and they spend eight times as much.” Enabling web, mobile, and video experiences in the store represents a huge opportunity – whether it is interactive, connected digital signage; Wi-Fi; employee-focused endless aisle apps; and so on.

Yet the majority of our customers face the reality that digital innovation is overwhelming their enterprise network. Everything from web apps, HD video, software updates, mobile apps, and even digital signage are traversing the network eating up valuable bandwidth. In addition, most retailers subscribe to doing more with less – particularly when it comes to IT – so upgrading enterprise network bandwidth across every store every few years is often just not viable, both from a budget and agility perspective. That is not to mention that a lot of Cisco customers can’t upgrade their bandwidth due to store location even if they wanted to.

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But bandwidth constrained enterprise networks are only one side of the story. Latency is the other, whether caused by distance or amplified by enterprise network architectures such as backhauling Internet traffic over the WAN through the datacenter and out to the Internet. Currently, the vast majority of retailers use this network topology for store Internet access.

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And as we all know, high latency is particularly detrimental to web application performance.

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Just look at the difference in latency and bandwidth between in-store and residential Wi-Fi. In fact, latency for in-store Wi-Fi is higher than latency for LTE.

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The bottom line is that congested, high-latency, low bandwidth enterprise networks result in slow HTTP applications, video, and software updates.

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And we all know that video or apps that are slow or not working properly are bad for business. There has been plenty of research highlighting the fact that as web apps get slower, conversion rates decrease, abandonment rates increase, and employee productivity plummets.

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In other words, slow apps – whether inside or outside the store – equals unhappy customers and unproductive employees. The answer to this problem? Retailers need to focus on accelerating HTTP/S applications, video and software updates while maximizing enterprise network bandwidth to ensure fast, high-quality experiences to all of your end users.

To learn more, be sure to register to join us on June 16 for a free one-hour webcast.

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Enhancing HDX: Introducing FlexDFS – Not All DFS Solutions Are Created Equally

Cisco Systems is announcing a new set of features that enhance its HDX (High Density Experience) suite. This blog is the second in a series that explains the new features that comprise the enhancements to HDX.

5 GHz is a great place to operate a WLAN. There is ample spectrum, and it’s far less crowded and noisy than 2.4 GHz.

However, the majority of 5 GHz spectrum is shared with radar (for both weather and military systems). Therefore, Wi-Fi Access Points not only need to detect radar in order to avoid interference but also need to avoid being an interferer to these systems.

This procedure is commonly referred to as DFS or Dynamic Frequency Selection.

For DFS operation, if radar is detected on a channel then the AP must abandon that channel from further operation for some minimum amount of time. Furthermore, the AP must ensure that any new channel it selects for operation is free from radar (and that detection also requires a minimum amount of time).

Finally, accurate detection of radar (i.e., avoiding false positives) also requires a lot of skill. Compounding the issue are many devices that emit “radar like” transmissions (including Wi-Fi clients and APs doing proprietary over the air detection and calibration).

As a result, many equipment vendors simply take the easy way out and avoid use of the channels requiring DFS.

Cisco believes it has the best DFS solution in the wireless industry and that it only gets better with  a new feature we’re calling Flexible Dynamic Frequency Selection (or for short, FlexDFS). Read More »

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Cisco ISE Express Now Offers Enterprise Guest for Less

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It’s a familiar scene – people sitting in a coffee shop or waiting room, fiddling with their mobile phones – punctuated by a single question. “Do you have Wi-Fi?”  As Wi-Fi has become ubiquitous in everyday life, customers have come to expect some level of access when visiting businesses – from coffee shops to hospitals, from waiting areas to public parks.

Guest access has becomes an essential – almost required – service for practically every business, and, as technology has advanced, their guests expect easy access and a fast connection.  Often times, such services present a pricey proposition to many smaller organizations and cost-conscious institutions.  In response to this, the Cisco ISE team is pleased to announce the release of Cisco ISE Express, a comprehensive licensing bundle that offers Enterprise-level guest services – including hotspot, sponsored and self-registration portals – and RADIUS/AAA for access at an aggressive, entry-level price.

ISE Express is a complete package for guest access, and it’s fast and easy to get it up and running in your network.  The bundle includes Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE).  Base licensing for 150 endpoints, an ISE virtual machine, unlimited access to the ISE Portal Builder, a web-based portal customization tool, and a quick installation guide. Cisco ISE includes native design capabilities that allow you to quickly design a portal by adding images (e.g., logos and banners) and selecting a color theme to match a corporate brand. Included with ISE Express is unlimited use of the ISE Portal Builder, a web-based tool that allows users to create highly customized portals in 17 different languages with a suite of 10 designer templates that are easily customizable and easily exportable to Cisco ISE. Read More »

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