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MSE Blog Series Part 1: How to Optimize Your CleanAir Experience

September 26, 2012 - 1 Comment

This is the first in series of blogs discussing various features of the Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE), an integral, yet often overlooked component that can turbocharge your existing interference detection capabilities. This post describes MSE and how it can help locate interference in your wireless network.

So you have a CleanAir Solution comprised of top-grade, enterprise-class Cisco access points and controllers: finally, a network of minimized interference.

But what happens when a rogue device intrudes on your peaceful network? How can you maintain crisp, fast wireless performance?

Luckily for you, the enterprise-class wireless experience enabled by CleanAir technology can be further enhanced and maintained with Cisco’s Mobility Services Engine (MSE).

MSE is a platform on which you can run services like Context Aware Service (CAS), Wireless Intrusion Prevention Service (wIPS), and Mobile Concierge, all of which are services that can help in monitoring your wireless infrastructure. Designed to integrate with existing CleanAir infrastructure, MSE is a ground-breaking technology that allows network administrators to achieve extremely high quality, interference-less wireless performance.

How exactly does it do this?

Location Services

MSE, layered on top of a CleanAir solution, enables network administrators to locate sources of interference on an indoor network map. While CleanAir access points can detect interference and the Radio Resource Management (RRM) module on the Cisco Wireless LAN Controller (WLC) can greatly reduce the effect of interference on your wireless network by switching channels, neither eliminates the source of interference—they are merely working around the problem.

MSE generates a map denoting sources of interference within a matter of seconds once detected by the Wireless LAN Controller (WLC). This allows network administrators to locate, identify, and eliminate the source of interference, effectively nipping the problem in the bud.

For example, consider a hospital environment where a device such as a Jammer can threaten the functionality of mission-critical hospital equipment.  A Cisco MSE can quickly identify the location of these foreign devices when they are detected by the access points on the floor and aggregate the information into a single record. The network administrator can look at this information on Cisco Prime Network Control System (NCS). Alternatively, if they have configured an alert using the rich MSE notification system, they will be instantly notified of the location of the interfering device. They can then go ahead and remove the device.

Figure 1: NCS showing the location of interferers (Bluetooth Link) on a map using MSE.

Location History

MSE not only allows for interference location tracking, but also records the location history so you can know where the source of interference has been. In addition to location history, MSE also tracks other useful information, such as duty cycle and severity of these interference sources. Having this data is extremely important for monitoring security compliance.

For example, consider this example where one of our customers saw serious degradation in their wireless network on one side of the building, curiously at 3 pm every day. After monitoring the location history of existing sources of interference, we noticed that there was an interferer that would come up every day at 3 pm on the far wall. A quick physical search near the location didn’t reveal anything. Later, the culprit was discovered: a city bus.

Now you must be thinking: How could it be? Every bus driver in that city was equipped with a 2.4 Ghz device to manipulate the traffic lights right outside our customer’s premises, so when a bus driver used the device at that particular intersection, it would deteriorate the wireless service for the customer. With a MSE integrated CleanAir solution, the customer could look at the location history of the device and configure the channels on that section of the premise to avoid this kind of interference.

Some larger deployments, such as at airports and hospitals, often have certain requirements for channel availability, SLA compliances, etc. If a network isn’t meeting their requirements, network administrators can use MSE to quickly audit the location history of interferers and correlate the dip in network quality of an area to the location of a particular device.  They can then go ahead and remove that interferer to improve the network characteristics to optimize the mission-critical wireless for their organization.

Figure 2: NCS showing the location history of a particular interferer using MSE.

Integrating the Cisco CleanAir solution within our Cisco Aironet access points allows us to provide optimized convergence of interference sources. MSE allows our customers to confidently track sources of interference through our 2 stage interference identification that is baked into a radio chip. More importantly, we can do this without affecting the load that our access points can carry.  Using MSE, we take this convergence to the next step and present the administrators with highly accurate information about the location of the interference source.

So now you know all about how MSE can enhance your wireless CleanAir experience. Adding this game-changing product from Cisco to your network portfolio will give you the ability to deliver the best mission-critical wireless to your stakeholders.

Stay tuned for the next post in our next MSE Blog Series, where we’ll discuss how MSE’s flexible notification architecture makes tracking interference child’s play.

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  1. …Excellent post…this keynote and all the links regarding Cisco MSE and Cisco Cleair, enhances my Cisco’s Wireless Class Presentations…Thanks for sharing it. I am looking forward to read more. Regards from PR.