How 802.11ac Made Wireless the New Access
In recent years, wireless has become the preferred means of access for networks. This change may be have been inevitable to some, but why did this happen? What has changed to make this possible? Not too long ago, there was a time when wireless had the reputation of not having the reliability or performance for everyday use in enterprise networks. But a few events occurred that can be directly attributed to the changed perception of wireless networks.
One event was the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement, which increased the use of Wi-Fi as a means of access. Beside the growth of smartphones, tablets and laptops, much innovation has taken place that allows for more reliability and performance in the wireless access network itself. Wireless is now more secure and has surpassed wired in several aspects such as: reliability, density and policy control. Let’s take a look at a few instances of this innovation.
Mission Critical Security
Since Wireless is not contained in a physical boundary like wired Ethernet, there has always been a concern that wireless is not secure. Due to this perception, customers have become more security conscious when deploying wireless solutions. Vendors heard what their customers demanded and recognized the need for more security, which drove more innovation into this area. Cisco has led the industry charge implementing standards such as 802.11i to improve wireless security. These changes made it easier for customers to roll out wireless security capabilities and implementing 802.11x security measures in wireless networks.
As a concern for many years, wireless networks reliability has not always been as consistent that of a wired network. With more recent Wi-Fi Standards including the latest version, 802.11ac Wave 2, wireless networks now have the ability to provide reliability through a number of standard features. The 802.11ac Wave 2 standard will provide more bandwidth but will also feature explicit beamforming for participating 802.11ac clients and an improved wireless coverage client connectivity.
Cisco has enhanced 802.11ac’s explicit Beamforming by implementing ClientLink 3.0 which provides better connectivity between clients. With Cisco’s ClientLink 3.0, the benefits extend not only to just 802.11ac clients but to legacy clients—devices utilizing the 802.11a/g/n standards—accounting for the majority of networks that have a mix of Wi-Fi clients in their network.
Cisco also provides rich High Availability such as Client Stateful Switchover (SSO) in its Wireless LAN Controllers. SSO enables sub-second recovery to a backup controller that has no impact on network traffic, even with voice calls that are in progress.
Device Density Ready
Dense, high client environments are not just the purview of stadiums and lecture halls. These environments are becoming commonplace across all enterprise settings as more mobile devices, wearables and IoT devices come on the network. Cisco’s Aironet access points are designed with High Density Experience (HDX). HDX enhances 802.11ac and delivers performance and scale in highly dense client environments by combining a number of features that includes ClientLink 3.0 and CleanAir. CleanAir is Cisco’s high-resolution interference detection and avoidance feature built-in to Cisco’s Aironet Access Points.
Cisco has built a lot of resiliency capabilities in its solution. Application Visibility & Control enables a richer BYOD experience and allows customers to implement a granular policy on their network. Users can bring their own device and use their own applications while IT administrators can set policy that dictates who has access and usage to network data. For example, a nurse can use her personal iPad at the hospital or doctor’s office, but she won’t have access to patient records on that device. She can also stream videos on that device during certain times, but the bandwidth consumed will be limited.
Most of the largest networks across many verticals depend on Cisco to run their ever-expanding mission critical Wi-Fi network. With the continued growth of wireless devices accessing the network, Cisco will continue its leadership and innovation to ensure security and reliability for those who manage the networks and a better user experience for those who use the network.
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