Has Samsung Rebadged The Cisco WLAN Solution?
Today i received an email from a BDM at Samsung’s Wireless Enterprise division. This was news to me that Samsung had moved into the WLAN Enterprise market so i thought that i would do a little digging around to workout how they had come to market and surprised most of the WLAN industry.
Having spoken to a few peeps on twitter (you know who you are) it seems that their announcement Q4 last year had gone under the radar.
So i thought that i would try and summarise their offering here to make things a little simpler for folk.
Link to Samsung WLAN portfolio can be found here : http://www.samsung.com/global/business/enterprise-communications/enterprise-communications/wireless-enterprise-solution
Samsung WLAN Controller
Samsung seem to be only offering the one WLAN controller, the Samsung WEC8500. This to me seems to be very similar in features to the Cisco 8500 WLC. Their data sheet also talks about RRM for example.
This is from their website:
The WEC8500 is a high-performance WLAN controller that is specifically designed for mission-critical wireless networking in mid-sized to large enterprises. This high-performing controller is able to simultaneously manage up to 500 access points and operates at 20Gbps, offering a fast and reliable network. In addition, the WEC8500 represents a cost-effective network solution for businesses, with features such as L3 routing, firewalls, 10G interfaces as well as system redundancy to enhance security and minimize downtime. With integrated handover and automatic cell optimazation applying LTE technology, the controller provides optimal wireless connections for both notebook PCs and smartphones.
Key Features are:
- High-performance WLAN controller for mission-critical wireless networking
- Management of up to 500 access points
- Highly scalable and Powerful platform with 10 GE connectivity
- High availability with redundant systems and power supplies
- Seamless handover by AirMove with LTE Technology
- SON (Self organizing network) for auto cell optimization technology in voice & data environment
Samsung Access Points
Samsung have two access points, an integrated and external model.
This is from their website:
“The WEA300 Series is a small but powerful access point (AP) for Wireless Enterprise. Reaching well beyond the limits of existing wireless networks, our Wireless Enterprise systems, along with our antenna technology, improve the AP coverage. As this technology also ensures airtime fairness, it provides equivalent service to anyone. The WEA300 Series automatically optimizes RF cell configuration and size, adapting to the characteristics of the mobile device for wireless network in mixed data and voice environments.”
Whats interesting is that both access points come with a separate radio for dedicated monitoring, so there is a 3×3:3 for client access and a 2×2:2 for WIPS/WIDS/Spectrum maybe?
Both access points look extreamly nice and are very low profile so i personally think that Samsung have designed these themselves and they are not a rebadged AP from Cisco, although inside they could be!
There are a couple of features that are talked about, Intelligent Beam Selectable Antenna is one of them and this very much looks like transmit beamforming or Cisco’s ClientLink. This is from their site:
“The AP uses Intelligent Beam Selectable Antenna (IBSA) technology to further facilitate networks where multiple devices are requiring concurrent access. The feature is able to minimize the coverage holes by optimizing its radio frequency (RF) pattern with a number of physical antennas. This serves to extend the coverage, improve receive sensitivity and maintain speed and reliability. As a result, mobile device can always receive the correct signals to avoid downtime, even from long distances.”
Dedicated Security Monitoring Module
This is interesting as Cisco does not have an AP with a dedicated set of radios for monitoring unless you count their latest 3600 and their security module. Manufacturers often rebadge others WLAN controllers and use their own AP’s. Netgear did this when they rebadged Aruba’s controller a few years ago.
This is what Samsung say on their site about their Dedicated Security Monitoring Module
“ia its dedicated monotoring module and antennas, this AP ensures a secure wireless service across its network. It is built in to the WEA300 Series, making it ideally suited to use in business environments where potentially confidential data needs to be handled and to avoide. Accordingly, the WEA300 Series maximizes sensing efficiency as it is possible to monitor real-time RF at the same time as reducing capital expenditure by eliminating the requirement for separate sensor APs that ensures WLAN security.”
Samsung WLAN Manager
Samsung seems to of done a good job of redesigning Cisco PRIME (old WCS) but the obvious giveaway for me has to be the “CleanAir” tab
Their main features are stated as:
- Management of multiple WLAN controllers
- An Intuitive and easy user Interface
- Management of wired and wireless networks
- Remote Monitoring for Improved Troubleshooting
- Convenient configuration, change, and compliance management
This is from their website:
“The Wireless Enterprise WLAN Manager (WEM) monitors access points (APs) and access point controllers (APCs), ensuring that users get the best network capabilities out of their products. It also tracks the status of the wireless environment, granting operators fast and reliable WLAN access. The WEM helps to manage the wireless network efficiently without any problems relating to the configuration and troubleshooting of the AP or AP controller. Furthermore, the WEM provides operational convenience that enables the monitoring of service disruptions and resolves the problems whatever the circumstances.”
What is interesting is that Samsung is offering a mobile APP that offers remote monitoring, It even seems to show AP locations:
This is from Samsung’s website:
“As the WEM can remotely monitor the status of wireless networks at anytime, it is possible to control from anywhere via a smartphone or another mobile device. It is able to identify and troubleshoot faults, minimizing network downtime and enhancing reliability. When the fault occurs, operators will be able to access real-time status reports and solve problems by sending error messages to the smartphone of the IT administrator”
It also looks as though Samsung has taken on a range of Cisco switches as well, as their WLAN manager states that it supports their “iES Ethernet Switches”. This is from their website:
“The WEM is capable of managing the Samsung iES Ethernet switches. In the case of AP failure, this manager can turn off the PoE port remotely via Samsung Ethernet Switch, rebooting instantly to minimize potential downtime. As a result, this solution serves to provide users with a more reliable network connection, making it even more suitable for applications in a wide variety of business and mission-critical environments.”
So has Samsung Rebadged Cisco’s WLAN Solution?
Well from the outside i would say for sure. Their controller the WEC8500 is similar to Cisco’s 8500 and Samsung’s WLAN manager is clearly Cisco PRIME.
Is this a bad thing? No i don’t think so.. manufacturers often rebadge anthers manufacturers solution to “Test the Waters” before they bring our their own offering. And you have to say that maybe only Samsung could pull of a deal with Cisco for their kit!
Do i think that they we gain much market share? Well that will depend on price i would say. They don’t have any depth within their portfolio so their penetration will only be so deep.
To me they are lacking an outdoor AP and maybe a smaller sized controller if they are going to market to the SMB market, which they say they are going to do.
So its going to get more interesting in the WLAN market and don’t be surprised if you see offerings from the likes of APPLE and GOOGLE in the near future!
Cisco Connected Mobile Experience
One of my favourite sessions at the Wireless Field Day #WFD4 was the short time that we had at Cisco Systems talking about their new acquisition ThinksSmart Technologies and how this was positioned into their new “Connected Mobile Experience” solution.
ThinkSmart Technologies, based in Cork, Ireland, was a software company that delivers location data analysis using Wi-Fi technology.
The Connected Mobile experience solution represents a massive advancement in the way that a venue can interact with a visitor which has been brought to life through a new protocol MSAP ( Mobile Services Advertisement Protocol ).
Like any new Cisco solution that is new it is a little hard to fully understand exactly what it is, what the benefits are and what is needed to implement the solution. So i will attempt to explain what i have managed to research so far.
Connected Mobile Experience is made up from a few core Cisco technologies and a few from external sources.
The following is required from Cisco:
- CUWN – Cisco Wireless Controller and Access Points (7.2 Software)
- Cisco Mobility Services Engine (Version 7.4) This has the new location analytics interface included.
- Cisco Prime Infrastructure (Version 1.2)
External components are:
- Qualcomm SnapDragon Chipset —Qualcomm has introduced a smartphone chipset with embedded Cisco Mobile Services Advertisement Protocol (MSAP)
- Meridian APP development – http://www.meridianapps.com
- Cisco WLC – Just the standard licensing is required
- Cisco Prime – Version 1.2
- MSE – In the MSE 7.4 release the Advanced Location service is introduced and it includes the Location Analytics service and Mobile Concierge service (more on this later). From Release 7.4 onwards, licensing is going to be AP based and not end point based. To accommodate this, new L-LS-licenses are being introduced.
Cisco Mobile Concierge
The Cisco Mobile Concierge a name that Cisco is using to encompass the following components:
- Mobile Concierge SDK, which enables integrating location into any iOS or Android mobile application. This is the SDK from Meridian for integration with the MSE which provides location based features and push notifications.
- Mobility Services Advertisement Protocol (MSAP).
Mobility Services Advertisement Protocol
The following are the main components and explanation of MSAP
MSAP Server – The Cisco Mobility Services Engine runs the MSAP server as it is embedded in Cisco MSE software version 7.4.100. It is managed in Cisco Prime Infrastructure.
MSAP End Points – The MSAP client is integrated with the latest phones that are built with Qualcomm’s SnapDragon client. The MSAP client software could also be integrated into a mobile app.
Configuration of the MSAP is through the Cisco Prime Network Control System. These “Services” are either applications that the customer has developed or a URL. The protocol provides links to these URL’s or the APP where the applications can be downloaded.
So how does MSAP actually work?
What i like about MSAP is the fact that it operates over the link layer (like EAP) where the client does not need to be associated to the access point, does not need to go through authentication or even need an IP.
MSAP gets its roots from an 802.11u protocol called GAS (Generic Advertisement Service) and ANQP (Access Network Query Protocol). These protocols are used in 802.11u for discovery of services from various service providers, authentication methods and details of the WiFi network itself.
In the Cisco solution MSAP is configured per SSID (next to where mobility anchors are configured) which advertises n its 802.11 beacon frame that services are available. When a complaint MSAP client receives such a frame it then queries the MSAP server for the services that are available. Depending on what as been configured in the Cisco MSE will depend on what is presented to the client. But this is typically links to a URL or application on an APP store.
So to summarise the above; A user will walk into a venue which supports MSAP, the users device will detect MSAP and query it for the local services that have been configured. The user will then be notified on their device from an icon (and maybe a vibration) that local services are available.
The user will then click on the icon and will be presented with a list of services. For this example lets say that its a shopping mall that the user has walked into and one of the services is their customer service APP. The APP is then able to be downloaded and installed onto the clients device.
Location Analytics is 7.4 Software is the ThinkSmart Technologies solution. The service is enabled through Cisco Prime before it can be accessed. The following images shows how Location analytics fits into the Cisco solution.
There seems to be very little difference in what is required when setting up Advanced Location Analytics, You need to go through the same process as before for a location based design, setting up MSE and Cisco Prime. Once you have added the “Advanced Location” license and enabled the service you will be able to log into the Analytics Server which is actually on the MSE.
Location analysis creates and analyses different areas of the building and measures the movement of people within building. The solution uses the concept of Areas and Zones, Areas are defined by mathematical clustering on the observable Wi-Fi points and a zone is a user defined space with a name and can be used for reporting or for path rule purpose.
￼￼￼The different behaviour measurements that are available are:
Dwell Time— Dwell time or wait time is an estimate of the time, a person is spending in an area as they move through the building.
Crowding— Crowding is measured by the density of people within a particular area over a time period. Crowding is a relative measure of crowding across all areas. It is derived from the number of observed devices in that area and a measure of the size of the area.
Number of devices passing—This indicates the number of unique MAC addresses identified in that area and is defined by your filtered conditions. The number of visits is also calculated. In case a device re-appear in the same area after an elapsed time, then it is counted as a second visit.
One of the most powerful parts to location analytics is the reporting. The following reports are available from within the GUI.
Frequent DevicesMovement Between ZonesDaily Device SnapshotDaily Devices and DwellThe Location Analytics provides ability to view the analytic results in both 2D and 3D. This provides better understanding of results, on multiple floor paths or when dwell times are calculated throughout a multi-storey building.
Another great feature is location path analysis. This is the behaviour of devices or people as they move through the building. The typical path presents you with a set of paths taken and the parameters associated with them. The following is a picture of a path taken.
The following information is displayed when you click on a node:
- Number of paths in the cluster
- Overall distance travelled
- Number of point observations recorded along the path
- Time took to complete the particular path
- Average speed along the path (km/hr)Date and time of the first and the last recorded point on the path
The following are the parameters for a particular point:
- Arrival date and time
- Zones located within
- Any tags associated with this point
- The following are the parameters displayed for a particular edge:
- Crow- files distance between the two points it joins
- Difference in time between two points
- Estimated speed between the two points.
I think that the location interface can be improved on which i am sure will happen over the next few releases. Id like to see it to look more inline with Cisco Prime.
Mobile APP Development
What is also interesting about this overall solution is the way that Cisco have engaged with Meridian (http://www.meridianapps.com) to provide location based application development.
Meridian have released an SDK that is provided once you enable the “Advanced Locations Service” on the MSE. The Meridian NavKit SDK allows you to embed maps and navigation features of the Meridian app into your own custom iOS and Android apps. The SDK communicates to the Meridian software that is pre-installed on the MSE.
Meridian also have a very easy to use “APP Maker” on their website that utilises their native APP on the APP store. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=meridian.app) This allows customers to create their own app in a very cost effective way and not have the hassle of getting software designers involved or have to submit APP’s to any APP store.
Meridian also have their “BluDotKit” for developers. The BluDotKit SDK enables the use of indoor location awareness. Provide visitors with their location inside buildings and monitor visitor traffic patterns. This works by Meridian formatting up the floor plans from your MSE to make them “Mobile Ready”. The BluDot is the same Blue Dot that you get in Google Maps which makes the interface very familiar.
Am really impressed how Cisco have pulled this all together. MSAP at this point is a propriety protocol but as it is being widely implemented by Qualcomm in their SnapDragon chipsets i cant see it being long before others start to support this. I like the way that they have not only integrated ThinkSmart into the MSE but brought in Meridian for ease of client APP’s.
In the next coming parts of this blog post i will go in-depth on the configuration required to configure both Location based Analytics and the Meriden APP!
Ruckus Wireless ZDRemote APP for IPAD
I thought that i would use this opportunity as i am in Paris providing WiFi to a conference to take a look at Ruckus’s Zone Director Remote APP.
This APP was first published earlier this year but it is the first time that i have had a real reason to play with it.
The APP can be found at : https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ruckus-zonedirector-remote/id578741971?mt=8
ZDRemote only runs on IOS 6 so if your an owner of an old fruit IPAD your out of luck!
Once you have logged in you have a default dashboard
The dashboard can be configured by clicking on the top left Configure button which gives you the following choices:
The most useful items that i found was; Access Points, Client Device Type, Most Used AP’s, AP Groups and Most Active Clients. As i am here to monitor the network this gave me a good understanding of how the network was performing and how much clients were being load balanced over the AP’s. This was important me to as i had over 350 devices in the same room with nearly 80%of them Apple devices.
What i needed to keep an eye on was the distribution of clients over my access points. I had 8 access points in the room (5Ghz and 3 on 2.4Ghz) and had load balancing turned on to distribute clients over these. the most used AP’s information box gave me information:
You can then click on the little icon in the top right corner to display more information about the AP.
As i had an high density environment with several AP’s i had all but 3 transmitting on 2.4Ghz so i used AP groups to group my SSID’s. As you can see from my picture below the AP Groups info box showed me how many clients i had on each radios.
Client Device Type gave me a good understanding of the type of devices that were on the network. I was surprised at how many Apple devices were being used and didn’t think that they would be nearly 80%
The final thing that i found useful was the alarms. I could keep an eye on either System, User or all events!
I would of liked an easier way of working out which of my clients were on 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz but apart from that i found the APP very useful!
Motorola Wireless were first up for sponsors at #WDF4 at their offices in San Fransico which i believe was the old Symbol headquarters back in the day.
Like most of the other #WFD4 delegates i too had not come across @MotoWireless that much, apart from the odd retail opportunity that we might of been bidding on as well. We had heard in advance that they were excited to be presenting at #WFD4 and this certainly showed with the excitement that was evident when we arrived.
Presenters for the day was (and not in this order) Cherie Martin – Sr Manager Field Enablement and Support, Vik Evans – Technical Marketing Engineer, Peter Miller – Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer, Kevin Marshall – Peter Miller – Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer and Sriram Venkiteswaran @wesriram (Whos card i didnt manage to get).
Cherie kicked the meeting off with an in-depth introduction of @MotoWireless, where they had come from and where they see themselves today. She covered the basics of WLAN and how the industry had evolved from autonomous APs to controller based today (no mention of cloud in there). Cherie impressed me with her knowledge and how she presented her material infront of what would of been a daunting audience.
Next Cherie starting talking about – services at the edge – Security, Performance, Survivability and Management. These are all of the features of WING5 operating system. A lot on the day was made about WING5 and how every device is running the same software, making management of all of the devices simplistic. @MotoWireless are very much pushing intelligence at the edge of the network and from the explanation of MINT (This equivalent of LAWAPP/CAPWAP) they are achieving this. What i specifically liked was how the MINT protocol was not like CAPWAP in the sense that it is Point-to-Point, but that a MINT tunnel could be directed through ANY devices that runs WING5. So if the shorted path is not through the controller and through another path then this can be configured.
Next item on the menu was product set and placement into the size of network. Three main controllers RFS 4000, 6000, 7000 from 36 up to 1024 Access Points. The 9000 was the larger of their controllers and supported over 10,000 Access Points. More information and a nice product comparison can be found on their website - http://www.motorola.com/Business/US-EN/Business+Product+and+Services/Wireless+LAN/Wireless+Switches
I would of liked an introduction to their access point portfolio as well to see if they also had large range of options; indoor (Carpeted areas) indoor ( Harsh environments) 1,2,3, radios, outdoor mesh APs but i guess time did not allow for this. More information can be found here on their website - http://www.motorola.com/Business/US-EN/Business+Product+and+Services/Wireless+LAN/Access+Points+and+Ports
Next on the presenting floor was Vik Evens with Motorolas Zero Touch provisioning on discussion. I liked the way that they had a live demo of this in the room for us all to see. At first i must admit i didnt quiet get it but it soon became apparent that it was like an advanced on boarding process for your access points. Allowing you to granularly set predefined parameters such as switch host name, VALN and then provisioning the access point with the right configuration which could be for any of your global locations. This i can see assisting large organisations with roll-outs and migrations to new hardware.
There was one feature that seems to capture very ones attention in the room, this was Motorolas remote debug option. I could see those jet lagged eyes in the room light up as soon as packet capture was mentioned. Again the guys set up a demo for us all to see how this works in principle with their radios. What stood out the most was the ability to use this across multiple access points at the same time and for all of the packets to be correlated in sequence to import into you favourite packet capture program (Wireshark or Omnipeek). For advanced trouble shooting engineers, this i think is essential and having the ability to do this remotely will save both time and cost for any organisation.
Unfortunately time crept up on us and the presentation had come to a close. This was a shame as it felt that @MotoWireless had only just started and needed way more time to talk about their portfolio. As this was one of the manufacturers that everyone clearly had the least knowledge about i would love to see them present at #WFD5 and go over more of their USPs. Stuff i would of loved to talk to the them about which are hot topics in the WLAN market at present are: BYOD and on boarding, 802.11ac, virtual WLCs, The Could, Location Services, and Analytics.
I know that @MotoWireless have some fantastic solutions behind their base WLAN portfolio like their Connected Shopper and Self Service Solution. This is similar to Ciscos Retail Analytics where they recently acquired ThinkSmart Technologies and are not bringing in-depth analytics to retail and other markets. More info on their Connected Shopper and Self Service - http://www.motorolasolutions.com/promo/retail/connected-shopper-self-service.html
Conclusion. Overall i was was impressed by motorola. I have only had a little experience of their solution where i upgrade an WING3 network to a WING5 dual controller solution and i have to admit that i was impressed by their kit. If your a Cisco engineer i can say that you will have to problems in migration your skill set over to WING5 software as a lot of the CLI interface in similar to Ciscos. Id be interested to see where their solutions sits for pricing and how it compares against other WLN vendors, both in large environment and small brach networks.
Motorola have a great solution which has clearly been developed over time, this can be seen but the granularity of feature set. I just hope that they a can start to market to other vertical market such as education and hospitality and gain more market share.
My feedback to the great guys from today would be to present at #WFD5 what differentiates @MotoWireless from it competitors and what its USPs are. There was no mention of roadmap items like cloud, 802.11ac, 802.11u, new access points. Us delegates love to hear about up and coming product lines and features.
Motorola WLAN Portfolio - http://www.motorola.com/Business/US-EN/Business+Product+and+Services/Wireless+LAN
Motorola CLI Reference Guide - https://docs.symbol.com/manuals/15222901b.pdf
Connected Shopper and Self Service - http://www.motorolasolutions.com/promo/retail/connected-shopper-self-service.html
Other Delegates Posts:
Blake Krone - http://blakekrone.com/?p=21957
Well am proud to say that i have been invited to be a delegate at the next Wireless Tech Field Day Feb 13-15th and to say that i am excited about going is a hugh understatement!
For those that have not heard about the great work that Stephen Foskett and his team do at Gestalt IT, here is the link to the Tech Field day website - http://techfieldday.com
The concept is simple but effective! This is from their website:
The Field Day events bring together innovative IT product vendors and independent thought leaders to share information and opinions in a presentation and discussion format. Independent bloggers, freelance writers, and podcasters have a public presence that has immense influence on the ways that products and companies are perceived and by the general public. The world of media has changed, with social media and blogging gaining special importance. The Field Day is an opportunity for tech companies and independent writers to meet, update and discuss products and form new communications.
Apart from getting the opportunity to be apart of the presentations, the one thing i am looking forward to is meeting some of my #WiFiHeros. These are the people listed below that i have had the pleasure to tweet and blog with over the last few years. But to name a few are Jennifer, Blake, George, Keith and Chris. Everyone on the list this year is of an extreemly high calibre and i look forward to being in such great company. I just hope that they are ready from my British humor
The sponsors this year are a mixture of the usual companies with a new arrival – Motorola Solution. I personally am looking forward to hearing from Motorola as i very much belive that they are the understated manufacturer with great potential. I have installed a few of their solutions and have been very impressed in the past, so want to hear what they have for the future!
Meraki – will be the manufacturer that i know the least about. Now that Cisco have purchased them it will be interesting so see what direction they are taking. Im missing the Cisco PVT in Amsterdam this year where Cisco are preseting meraki, as i will this as i will be at this WTFD so i hope to get the update from Meraki themselves.
Cisco Systems – What i would like to hear from Cisco is the following; Cisco 5700 WLC, Retail Analytics after their purchase of ThinkSmart, WNBU 8 update, AVC and Meraki.
Juniper – Am new to Juniper so am not too sure what to expect. Will be nice to learn where they fit into the industry.
Aruba Networks – Being a long standing and well established wirelss vendor am expecting great things from Aruba.
Shame that there was a no go for Aerohive or Ruckus, i was looking forward to heckling both Dev and GT Hill. But i belive they both may be at WTFD5 (i just hope i can be )
There is a presentation from WiFi veteran Keith Parsons on his latest WiFi stress testing which am eager to hear about, as i can compare his experiences with some of the high density WiFi solutions that i have been involved with reciently.
This years sponsors are:
Wednesday, Feb 13 14:00-16:00 Motorola Solutions
Wednesday, Feb 13 16:00-18:00 Wi-Fi Stress Tests with Keith Parsons
Thursday, Feb 14 08:00-10:00 Juniper
Thursday, Feb 14 13:00-17:00 Aruba Networks
Friday, Feb 15 9:00-10:00 Meraki
Friday, Feb 15 10:30-12:30 Cisco Systems
The other delegates (WiFiHeros) are:
Jennifer Huber, http://jenniferhuber.blogspot.com @JenniferLucille
Jennifer has over 10 years of experience in the networking and wireless engineering industry. She is technically proficient in performing indoor and outdoor wireless surveys for data, voice or location tracking. She has a solid background in supporting/designing/deploying/troubleshooting 802.11a/b/g/n Enterprise wireless installations, as well as the ability to take complex information and explain problems/solutions in terms that are easily understood.
Blake Krone, http://BlakeKrone.com and http://NSAShow.com @blakekrone
Blake Krone is Cisco CCIE Wireless and CWNA certified Wireless Network Architect with experience designing and deploying enterprise class networks supporting hundreds of APs and multiple controllers for Voice, Data, and RTLS. Particularly interested in integrating Wireless technologies and Location Aware systems to provide enhanced experiences.
Steve Williams, http://www.sudonetworks.com and Blog: http://blog.sudonetworks.com/wifi-edge
Steve Williams helps organizations leveraging technologies to dramatically increase results. Consultant and solo practitioner, Steve is a highly experienced professional who designs and implements high quality networks for his customers. Additionally, he provides coaching and mentoring services to his clients so they can become self-sufficient.
George Stefanick, http://www.my80211.com @wirelesssguru
George Stefanick is a Wireless Architect employed by a large healthcare system in the Texas Medical Center. George has been in wireless communications since 1997 and holds various vendor and vendor neutral certifications and focuses on high density indoor deployments in the Healthcare vertical. Whereby leveraging his hands on experience in Site Survey, RFID, 802.1X Security, Device Identity, High Density, Mesh Designs, Video Designs, Voice Designs and troubleshooting
Lee Badman, http://www.networkcomputing.com/blogs/author/Lee-Badman-2 @wirednot
Lee Badman currently writes for Network Computing Magazine as Wireless and Mobility blogger, and has over twelve years of professional industry analysis under his belt. Published hundreds of times in Network Computing, Cabling Business Magazine, the Syracuse Post Standard, and other periodicals, Lee has done feature-length reviews on everything from IP-based KVM platforms to Wireless Network Management systems
Peter Paul Engelen, http://cciewl.blogspot.nl @PPJM_Engelen
Peter-Paul Engelen is a technical consultant with advanced (pre) sales experience and business development skills in multi-vendor Cloud-based (W)LAN and Wholesale ISP/Carriers.
He holds a post academic degree in Communication Technologies with the thesis, “Wireless IP, The Killer Application !?”
Daniel Cybulskie, http://www.simplywifi.co @SimplyWiFi
Daniel Cybulskie is a Senior Security Consultant out of the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area. Prior to focusing primarily on wireless technologies, Daniel’s background was in designing and deploying strong authentication and encryption solutions for high-security organizations. Recognizing the imminent explosion of mobile computing, he has successfully leveraged this strong AAA background to become the lead mobility consultant within his organization and acts as lead on mobility projects across healthcare, public safety, and a broad range of corporate verticals.
Sam Clements, http://www.sc-wifi.com/ and http://nostringsattachedshow.com @samuel_clements
Sam Clements is an avid wireless technologist with a passion for all things mobility. He is an active social media contributor and maintains a technical blog at http://www.sc-wifi.com/ and is also a regular contributor to the No Strings Attached podcast at http://www.nsashow.com/ along with Blake Krone.
Keith R. Parsons, http://WirelessLANProfessionals.com @keithrparsons
Keith Parsons is Managing Director of the Institute for Network Professionals. A gifted presenter, Keith is known for his wit and broad technical experience. He holds 58 technical certifications (9 Wireless) and has earned an MBA from the Marriott School of Management. He is author (or editor) of a 30+ technical publications and has developed seven technical industry and vendor certifications.
Scott Stapleton, http://phasedcoexistence.blogspot.com @scottpstapleton
Scott started out in Wi-Fi with nothing more than a soldering iron and N-type connector in hand, scouring roof tops for ex-pay-TV antennas as part of the community Wi-Fi movement of the early 2000s – an obsession that lasted several years. Having since moved through several ICT roles Scott wound up in Networks and naturally gravitated towards Wi-Fi, trading a hobby for a career.
Chris Lyttle, http://www.wifikiwi.com @wifikiwi
More inforamtion can be found on Chris’s Web Site: http://www.wifikiwi.com Twitter: @WiFiKiwi
Ill be updating my Twitter @MarkJulier during the presentations and blogging after the event so please come back for an update and my view on what the vendors had to say!
Ruckus Wireless has the new 7782-N which is the industry’s Highest Capacity, Highest Performing access Point for extreme, High Density wi-Fi Deployments. We have been looking forward to Ruckus releasing AP for a little while now so it will be exciting to get one in for a product test. All of the experince that DigitalAir has is with Cisco’s stadium 3502P and High density antenns so it will be interesting to see how this new 7782-N performs againt it.
The ZoneFlex 7782-N is the first dual-band 802.11n outdoor access point (AP) designed explicitly for very high density user environments such as stadiums, arenas, train stations, convention centers, and major metro areas.
The ZoneFlex 7782-N is the only AP on the market to integrate patented BeamFlexTM technology and chip-based transmit beamforming (TxBF), combining these technologies with a 30o narrow beam adaptive antenna array to deliver up to 7 dB of signal-to-interference-plus-noise (SINR) improvement above the antenna gain and up to 15 dB of interference mitigation. This enables much longer range signals and more resilient mesh connections that adapt to interference and changing environmental conditions.
In addition, the ZoneFlex 7782-N uniquely leverages a predictive model for channel selection (ChannelFly) that uses actual activity to learn what channels will yield the most capacity to provide the highest client speeds and reduce interference.
Designed for easy installation within an ultra lightweight and low profile enclosure, the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7782-N is ideal for venue owners looking to quickly and economically deploy Wi-Fi in high-capacity environments Using a very narrow and focused beam, the 7782-N APs can be deployed in close proximity, mitigating co-channel interference. This is critical as high density deployments require a large number of APs within a fixed space.
The ZoneFlex 7782-N can be centrally managed by the ZoneDirector Smart WLAN controller or the SmartCellTM Gateway 200 (SCG 200) as part of a unified indoor/ outdoor wireless LAN, deployed as a standalone AP and managed individually, or through the FlexMaster remote Wi-Fi management system.
7782-N Key Features
• Concurrent dual-band (5GHz/2.4GHz) support
• Adaptive antenna technology and advanced RF management
• Up to 7dB signal gain / 15dB interference mitigation
• Chip based transmit beamforming increasing signal gain up to 3dB when used with supported clients
• Automatic interference avoidance, optimized for high-density environments
• PoE output supports up to 25 Watts to power small cells and IP surveillance cameras
• Polarization diversity for optimal mobile device performance
• Integrated AC power
• IP-67 rated, -40°C to +65°C
• Integrated GPS for location services
• Wall, pole or ceiling mountable
• Small, lightweight, and sleek form factor
• 2 to 4 times extended range and coverage
• Multicast IP video streaming
• 600 Mbps of user throughput (300Mbps/radio)
• 32 BSSIDs with unique QoS and security policies (future)
• Auto packet classification and priority for latency-sensitive traffic
• Standalone or centrally managed by ZoneDirector, SCG 200, or FlexMaster
• Spectrum analysis
• Dynamic, per-user rate-limiting for hotspot WLANs
• WEP, WPA-PSK (AES), 802.1X support for RADIUS and Active Directory
• Smart Mesh Networking
• Zero-IT and Dynamic PSK
• Admission control/load balancing
• Band steering and airtime fairness support
• Captive portal and guest accounts
Most sports fans expect their mobile experience to be as good as—if not better than—their experience on the way to and from the event. There is an increasing need for stadiums and arenas to provide the seamless and reliable internet connectivity necessary to address these needs.
In most sports and entertainment venues today, existing wireless and cellular technologies (for example, 3G or 4G) are not optimized for the reliable delivery of these services to such a highly concentrated group of users, leaving tens of thousands of sports fans with limited ability to make phone calls, send text messages, share video, and access mobile data applications. As a result, the need to create a seamless and uninterrupted Connected Stadium Wi-Fi experience for fans has become one of the primary focuses for industry executives.
Stadium Wi-Fi benefits include:
- Real-time concessions, merchandise and ticket-ordering applications
- Targeted promotions, advertisements, and unique sponsor activations
- Venue-based services to highlight amenities, provide way-finding, and more
New and enhanced fan experiences
- Real-time, uninterrupted access to web and stadium-specific applications— including social media, event and concierge services, and exclusive location- based applications—that augment the experience
- Increased levels of interactivity and personalization to engage fans in compelling ways
- Uninterrupted voice and text services that allow fans to enjoy the event like never before
- Single converged Wi-Fi for employee, operations, and fan-facing needs
- Reliable connectivity
- Simplified administration and management
Solutions for Stadium WiFi
There seems to be two main vendors that have solutions for Stadiums, Cisco and Ruckus Wireless. Both have specific hardware, Cisco have their 2.4Ghz/5Ghz external antenna and Ruckus Wireless has the new 7762 with a 30 Degree sector antenna.
Town Centre or Shopping Centre WiFi
Is a WiFi network coming to your town centre some time soon?
If your town does not have a WiFi service already then i would say that within the next year or so you will see one installed and offering a variety of services.
So why is WiFi coming to a town near you?
With the mass adoption of WiFi enabled mobile devices we all are demanding WiFi coverage wherever we are and this is driving demand for WiFi in public areas. High streets, public parks, shopping centers and public transport will all have pervasive coverage in the near future.
As a WiFi system integrator we are now starting to see more and more demand from councils and private landlords to provide WiFi coverage for the general public. No longer is WiFi seen as a “nice to have” and i would almost go to say that WiFi or internet coverage is so important to some people that being disconnected for a several hours is unbearable. (me included)
Mobile operators and 802.11u
Yes! the mobile operators are now looking to WiFi to deliver their service! For years they looked down on WiFi as an unlicensed, uncontrollable technology but with 802.11u due to be ratified very soon they are looking to WiFi to solve their data offload problems. Funny how things come round.
If your a council or landlord of a large public area don’t be surprised if a mobile operator calls you up saying that they want to install for free, a WiFi network in your high street or shopping centre. So why would they be wanting to do this? Simple… The mobile operator, that is first to the lamp post will control the WiFi service. It is as simple as that.
The high street is the old roof space
Landlords; think of your high street or shopping centre as your roof space. The mobile operators were desperate for your roof tops years ago and paid a premium for this. So don’t give away your next revenue opportunity!
Councils and landlords have a few options, they can either accept a mobile operator will come in and install a public WiFi service for free with the downside to this is that they will probably not receive an income from this, or if they do it will be minimum.
Keep the revinue yourself
If you install your own WiFi service you will be able to charge each mobile operator for using your WiFi platform holding control of the service and more importantly keep a revenue stream. Or if your not interested and just want to add value to customers on your premise then you can allow the mobile operators to install for free and take responsibility for the service.
Whatever option is chosen for your local high street or shopping centre you can guarantee that a WiFi service is coming soon!
If you are a local council or landlord that would like to explore the options of installing your own WiFi service then please give us a call or use the contact us page.
Cisco vWLC Virtual Wireless Controller
Cisco in their latest software 7.3 have released a version of their controller software that will run in a virtual environment. The following information has been taken from various Cisco sources, the deployment guide is at the bottom of this post.
The vWLC software is available now on Cisco’s website.
CIsco vWLC Introduction
Untill 7.2 releases, all Wireless LAN controllers (WLC) ran on a dedicated hardware. For example we have 5500 Series, 2100 Series, 2000 series, WiSM on CAT6500 etc. The virtual wireless LAN controller (vWLC) is software that can run on hardware that is compliant with an industry standard virtualization infrastructure. Virtual wireless LAN controllers provide flexibility for users to select the hardware based on their requirement i.e. VMWare,ESx and ESXi 4.x & 5.x version. The Virtual Controllers are NOT expected to replace shipping hardware controllers.
Multiple advantage of using vWLC
1. Flexibility for the customer to select hardware based on their Requirement – So now the end user is not locked into single piece of hardware. We need to use VMware with specific requirements. Also make sure that we get the Hardware support checked from VMware site to run the Virtual controller without any issues. If the virtual controller is installed on a not supported platform, it may not work properly.
2. Reduces Cost, Space requirements and other overhead since multiple boxes can be replaced with a single hardware platform running multiple instances of controllers – This will save clients cost and they can run multiple controllers on this virtual machine. This can also save cost in data center.
3. Independent and mutually exclusive instances allows administrators to use multiple virtual controllers managing different campuses (or even managing multiple customer sites) using the same physical hardware — The users can run multiple instances on single box. Another advantage is we can run redundancy between two vWLC on the same box.
Enable features provided by the virtualization software which includes High Availability (HA), ease of migration and fail over protection.
VM components relevant for vWLC – vSphere and vCenter Server
1. vSphere – vSphere is a virtualization infrastructure package from VMware., which includes ESX/ESXi hypervisor, vMotion, DRS, HA, Fault Tolerance and vSphere Distributed Switch. vSphere is like a stand alone client. This gives us the ability to create and connect to the virtual machine and make changes to the virtual machine.
2. vCenter Server – The VMware vCenter Server, formerly VMware VirtualCenter, provides a scalable and extensible platform that forms the foundation for virtualization management. vCenter server provides scalable way for the management of the platform. Another concept for vCenter is vMotion.
How it Works?
ESX / ESXi Hypervisor is a software component used in virtualization which allows multiple guest operating systems to run on a host computer all at the same time.
Hypervisors partition physical servers into multiple virtual machines. The hypervisor is going to control the physical disk access to the CPU which allows us to run virtualization. It also allows us to create multiple virtual machines on one machine but we cannot use hypervisor via console.
VMware ESX / ESXi hosts can’t be managed directly from the console, and all the management of the base platform will be done via vSphere client or vCenter Server in order to access the console. This is required in case we need to adjust memory or disk size etc.
Virtual Machines are the fundamental building blocks in a virtualized infrastructure. What virtual machine essentially does is, it creates software container and each software container will represent how we are going to create CPU. Every software container contain its own virtual (i.e., software-based) CPU, RAM hard disk and network NIC.
A virtual machine is a tightly isolated software container that can run its own operating systems and applications as if it were a physical computer. Which means on top of this virtual machine, the controller software will be running, in the similar way it does on the physical machine.
In Virtual machine, the vWLC software talks to hypervisor instead of the CPU. Now the hypervisor will check which CPU or disk needs to engaged for the request sent from controller software. A virtual machine behaves exactly like a physical computer and contain its own virtual (i.e., software-based) CPU, RAM hard disk and network interface card (NIC).
so the hypervisor is the interface between the physical box and virtual controller software.
Virtual Controller Support
Hardware: Cisco UCS, UCS Express, HP and IBM servers. We need to make user we are running supported platform and verified from VMware site.
VMware OS: ESX/ESXi 4.x/5.x
FlexConnect Mode: Central and Local Switching. Only FlexConnect Central and Local Switching APs are supported, Local Mode AP will only join the controller but will not associate the clients. So once AP joins the controller we can change the mode from Local mode to Flexconnect mode.
Licensing: Node locked licenses to UDI (eval 60 days)
Max # of APs: 200
Max # of Clients: 3000
Maximum number of sites up to 200
Throughput performance up to 500 Mbps per virtual controller
Management with Cisco Prime Infrastructure 1.2 and above
Features Not Supported on vWLC
Cisco 600 Series OfficeExtend Access Points
Wireless rate limiting (bandwidth contract)
Internal DHCP server
Access points in local mode
Controller High Availability
Outdoor mesh access points (Outdoor AP with FlexConnect mode will work)
Single Virtual Controller Resource Requirement
CPU: 1 virtual CPU
Memory: 2 GB
Disk Space: 8 GB
Network Interfaces: 2 or more virtual Network Interface cards (vNICs)
Network Interfaces: 2 or more virtual Network Interface cards (vNICs). VMware networking consists of virtual network interface cards (vNICs) of various types, the physical NICs on the hosts, and virtual switches to interconnect them.
Each virtual machine has one or more vNICs. These vNICs are connected to a virtual switch to provide network connectivity to the virtual machine.
The guest OS on the VM sees the vNICs as physical NICs. VMware can emulate several popular NIC types, so the guest OS can use standard device drivers for these vNICs.
The physical NICs on an VMware host are called virtual machine NICs (VMNICs), and are used as uplinks to the physical network infrastructure.
Virtual and physical NICs are all tied together by virtual switches.
Access Points Requirement
- All 802.11n access points with required software version 7.3 are supported
- Access points will be operating in FlexConnect mode only.
- AP auto convert to FlexConnect is supported on controller.
- New access points ordered will ship with 7.3 software from manufacturing unit.
- Existing access Points must be upgraded to 7.3 software, before joining a virtual controller.*
The Virtual Controller will support a Console Port virtually which can be used to configure the device initially and manage the controller. Access to the virtual console port is obtained using these methods:
Accessible through vCenter / vSphere client using the vWLC VM’s console tab. Telnet to the port provided by the VMware (done during initial setup).
The Service Port is controlled by the Service-Port Interface and is reserved for out-of-band management of the controller, system recovery and maintenance in the event of a network failure.
Port 1 is used to connect to neighbor switch and will be used for communication with APs connected in the network. Unlike physical controllers, virtual controller supports only a single port. VM will maintain the mapping between physical ports and virtual ports. Any link aggregations are handled at physical ports using NIC teaming.
I find that many people are still confused about what transmit beamforming is or simply do not know what it is at all, even wireless engineers.
So i thought that i would put a short bog post together to try and expalin it and make it simple. Am not surprise that it can get confusing especially when vendors give it marketing terms such as clientlink.
In its simpleist terms, beamforming allows an access point to effectivly concentrate its signal at the clients location. This results in a better signal, SNR and potentially a great throughput.
The 802.11n standard defines a few methods of beamforming. One method, referred to as “explicit” beamforming, requires the downstream channel to be measured at the receiver, or beamformee, and relayed back to the transmitter, or beamformer. The beamformer uses the measured channel information to derive the transmit beamforming parameters.
A second technique defined in the standard is “implicit” beamforming. In this implementation, the upstream wireless channel is measured by the beamformer, and the measurement used to derive the parameters for subsequent downstream beam formed transmission.
“Implicit” beamforming has the advantage that the beamformee does not need to measure and send the channel state information to the beam former. However, 11n standard implicit beamforming requires a calibration exchange between the beamformer and beamformee, which can complicate the transceiver design.
By carefully controlling the time (or phase) of the signal transmitted from multiple antennas, it is possible to shape the overall pattern of the received signal, emulating a higher-gain, or directional antenna in the direction of the target. The same implicit and explicit feedback mechanisms used to characterize the MIMO channel allow beamforming.
The image below shows in simple terms how a shift in phase on an antenna can “focus” its signal so that it arrives at the client at the same time as the other antennas signal thus giving aditional gain overalll to the client.
So when is transmit beamforing actually used in an access point? Well some vendors do not support this feature in their access point. I dont have a list of thsoe that do, but i know of two that do; Cisco and Ruckus Wireless. (Cisco with their ClientLink and Ruckus as of the 7982 AP).
So when does an access point stop using spatial divison multiplexing and choose to use tramsmit beamforming. Your asking yourself why cant they do both? Well lets explain:
To perform spatial division multiplexing ( SDM ) you need to send different spatial streams to the client. For transmit beamforming you are sending the SAME spatial stream to the client so if you are a 2X2:2 AP/Client then you cant do both.
An 3X3:3 AP/Client could in theory be sending two SDM streams and 1 beamforming stream; thus improving one of the SDM streams but your data rate would be 300mbps and not 450mbps.
For a Cisco 3600 4×4:3 AP then again in theory you can deliver 3 SDM streams and one beamforming stream; thus improving one of the SDM streams but most importantly you will be loosing one of the SDM streams so your max data rate will be 450mbps.
If your a 3×3:3 which most access point are, then when you use transmti beamforming instead of SDM then you data rate is 300mbps not 450mbps as most people think. Remember the 3rd antennas is taken up sending one of the other antennas spatial streams and is not sendign one of its own…
Cisco’s explanation of spatial streams..