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  • CWNP

802.11r - R is for Rapid

Soap Box: On

802.11r ratification is the most important standard to hit the Wi-Fi industry in a long time - yes, even more important than 802.11n.  802.11i was sorely lacking - giving us only fast roam-back (to an AP to which your client was previously associated) and preauthentication, which is slow and rarely supported by WLAN infrastructure providers.  In the absence of a standard, many WLAN infrastructure vendors (Motorola, Colubris, Aruba, Cisco, Meru, etc.) have been using Opportunistic Key Caching (OKC) - also called Opportunistic PMK Caching.  Both the client device and the WLAN infrastructure have to support this for it to work, and on laptop computers, that gives us only Microsoft's WZC client and Juniper's Odyssey client.  While both are popular, they don't represent the entire industry - not even half when you consider how many appliances like VoWiFi phones there are in the market.

 

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Apple MAController?

Ha!  Made you look.  Wouldn't that be the coolest thing though.  Is there anyone not sick of overly-complicated WLAN controller and WNMS interfaces?  In fact, if Apple would make their latest AirPort Extreme in a 2-radio version that could be powered with 802.3at PoE and managed by something as simple as their AirPort Utility, small companies wouldn't need much else really.  Stick in a USB2 Hub, USB2 HDD, and a USB Printer or two, Bonjour zero-config networking, and presto: instant, fast, user-friendly mobile networking.  Not bad really, for a small-to-medium office. Continue reading...

  • CWNP

Consolidation Is In The Air

We've just seen Belden buy Trapeze, Motorola buy AirDefense, and now HP buys Colubris.  All this happened in what...2 months?  Wow.  If this isn't the end-all of WLAN industry consolidation, I'm not sure what is.  We all know Cisco never sits idly by while this kind of thing happens (remember Juniper buying Funk software and Cisco following suit by buying Meetinghouse?), so I'm anxious to see who they scarf up next.

I'm also anxious to see if any of the other big players in the industry start getting a little worried about their long-term position.  Consider the following (just my humble rambling, because I'm not privy to anything secret)...

 

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  • CWNP

A Book for CWSP

Every once in a while, a new Wi-Fi book comes along that's worthy of the front page.  I've recently stumbled across one such book: "Implementing 802.1x Security Solutions for Wired and Wireless Networks " by Jim Geier. Continue reading...

  • CWNP

If You Think Education is Expensive, Try Ignorance.

If we do not pay for education, we pay for the lack of it in a myriad of ways...

* We pay for it right up front when our customer loses confidence in our sales person when he/she uses terminology in the wrong way or tries to sell a wrong solution because he/she didn't think that they needed a basic understanding of the technology they're selling.
 
* We pay for it when we have to revisit a customer's site to redo a site survey or a Wi-Fi install that should have been done right the first time.

* We pay for it when everyone at the company is working many long hours, but for some "unknown" reason, many deals are lost and revenue is down.

* We pay for it when key employees walk out the door because the company won't invest in their future.

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  • CWNP

Surveying Mess....uh, Mesh.

Site surveying has finally standardized.  The process is well-understood among industry professionals - though not always implemented properly.  Just when we thought we had it whipped, we get a curve ball: mesh.  Have you checked out systems from vendors like Ruckus, Motorola, Meru, Cisco, and Aruba that have the option to have mesh APs connecting back to root APs?  This is a seriously nice feature, but have you thought about doing a manual survey for such an implementation?  Let's explore that, shall we?

 

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  • CWNP

The Only Thing Missing IsThe Drivers

After many years of networking, one thing I can do in my sleep is load a Windows driver.  That's a pretty good thing considering that working in networking means constantly loading and changing NIC drivers - wired and wireless.  

Linux desktops are getting remarkably easy to use, Ubuntu being my personal favorite at the moment.  Novell, Redhat, and Xandros all make some butt-kicking stuff as well.  These Linux desktop operating systems have almost everything known to man built right in, and they are so much like Windows that, with the right skin, they would be almost indistinguishable from Windows itself.  I think that rocks.  They are easy to install and use, and best of all, they are either cheap or free - my personal favorite being free.

 

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  • CWNP

Is the WLAN market finally settling down a bit?

When the powers that be call to see if there are any "latest-greatest" hacks, I've actually had to say, "nothing to speak of."  When I read the "latest" whitepaper on WLAN "speeds and feeds" or security (authentication/encryption) topics, it's the same old thing said a different way.  Infrastructure upgrades to 802.11n is currently the hottest topic, and though there are a number of challenging facets to it, it's not mind-bogglingly difficult.  Are we finally reaching a place where change is more of an "annual thing" rather than a "daily thing?"

 

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  • CWNP

A gap in the market and irritating licensing schemes

People are constantly asking me, "which 802.11n wireless access point or router should I buy for my home?"  After questioning them about their needs, they tell me that they want the "good stuff" - not the usual SOHO fare.  Of course, the "usual" is Linksys, DLink, NetGear, TrendNet, Belkin, and a few others.   There's nothing in particular wrong with equipment from any of these vendors, and most people are perfectly fine using it in their homes or small businesses.  But there's a few telecommuters and small business owners that don't mind paying a little extra for something more feature rich and reliable.  The problem is that there is no such thing.  I have a suggestion. Continue reading...

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Random Thoughts...

I was just thinking that if AT&T can screw people by charging them 20 cents EACH for receiving text messages they don't even want (usually from people they don't even know), then I'm sure someone is going to figure out how to do this on Wi-Fi soon enough.  I can see it now, "ToWiFi" - holy crap.

This week, I was just reading an Aruba whitepaper that reiterates the need for a static site survey when legacy clients are participating in an 802.11n infrastructure.  I also had conversations with several people who reiterated the Vocera and SpectraLink (now part of Polycom) don't support installations of their products when the controller is configured for "automatic power and channel assignments."  Bottom line: static site surveys are here to stay for a good long time. 

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