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  • CWNP

WCET is for System Designers

CWNP has been asked by various people over the last couple of months how CWNP certifications compare to the IEEE's new WCET certification.  Having taken a good look at WCET when it emerged, I already knew that it was a completely different certification than those offered by CWNP.  Nevertheless, inquiring people means that someone has to clarify.  So here goes...

CWNP creates certifications around Job Task Analyses (JTAs).  We identify career positions within a range of organizations, qualify what tasks must be performed within those positions, and then build exam objectives around those tasks.  Thus far, CWNP's certifications focus on 4 main groups of professionals:

1. CWTS - Technical Sales, Help Desk, and Support Technicians (official announcement forthcoming)

2. CWNA - Enterprise WLAN Administrators

3. CWSP - Enterprise Wireless Security Professionals

4. CWNE - Enterprise Wireless Design, Implementation, and Troubleshooting

There is certainly more to come, but I won't spill the beans just yet.  Now I would like to compare WCET to CWNP's certifications a bit.

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  • CWNP

The Unsung Heroes - Technical Documentation Professionals

One of the things that holds Enterprise Wi-Fi companies back is a lack of documented deployment strategies - often called Design Guides or Best Practices documents.  Cisco no doubt knows this because their design guides are released almost as fast as their equipment, and they keep them up-to-date.  These are great documents if you can find the time to read and digest up to 360 pages of detailed technical material per document (Enterprise Mobility, VoWLAN, & Security).  Aruba kinda/sorta has some of these types of documents, and they go by names like, 'Campus Wireless Networks Validated Reference Design' and 'Site Survey and Planning Pre-Deployment Guide.'  All combined, Aruba's guides make up enough documentation to get most of the job done.  Motorola has recently released their version, finally, and it's a Cisco-like 320 pages.  Sweet.  That's very good news for Moto VARs.

 

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  • CWNP

WIPS-2-Go

I've been asked (gratis of course) to help catch an intermittent 'borrower' of Wi-Fi and Internet service without the help of the company whose Wi-Fi network and Internet connection is being used.  Yeah, intermittent.  Normally you would use a WIPS for such security monitoring, but the company who owns the network isn't to be involved in catching the bad guy.  OK, I'm up for a challenge, so sure, let's do this.  First, what better than a WIPS to catch the bad guy?  Nothing.  So, let's use WIPS...in a way that it's really not designed to be used of course.

 

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  • CWNP

Here We Go Again...

Last week, I received calls from former SEs, channel managers, and more (previously with several WLAN companies) asking for help landing their 'next gig'.  You guessed it - layoffs.  I thought I'd snoop around for a little extra info when I stumbled across some links on Google mentioning various companies in the WLAN market that have laid people off recently.  This can't be good.

 

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  • CWNP

Just What The Wi-Fi Doctor Ordered: AirMedic

Well it's about time someone did this.  First there was nothing.  Then the Cadillac of Laptop-based spectrum analyzers came along: Cognio...to this day, still unrivaled.  Then Cisco scarfed up Cognio and the honeymoon between cash-strapped users and a bleeding-edge startup ended...  You want Spectrum Analysis, you pay.  Not unexpected of course.

Then those same self-funded users turned to the low-end alternative: MetaGeek's Wi-Spy.   For 10% of the price of Cisco's Spectrum Expert, you too can have very basic spectrum analysis in the 2.4 GHz band only.  What was that?  Oh yes, that's right..."you get what you pay for."  Rats.  If 'basic' and '2.4 GHz-only' will do ya, then you're all set with Wi-Spy.  But what if you need more but can't shell out $4k/license?  Well, you are just stuck.  Grrr.

 

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  • CWNP

Dynamic Protection Mechanisms

Protection mechanisms are essential to the interoperability of multiple PHY's, like 802.11b on an 802.11g network. The problem with protection mechanisms is that they are very static, either on or off. Either you don't allow a "mixed mode" environment or your do allow it and consequently run the risk of losing 40+% of your throughput. What is the answer you ask?

 

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  • CWNP

Much Ado About Where

First, there was a defensive strategy: Meru's RF Barrier.  Very nice.  Then, Agito added locationing to their systems whereby each phone can "calibrate" areas in such a way that they're drawing a physical line of where/when to move to/from cell tower to/from Wi-Fi network.  No scanning-for-WiFi all the time (saving battery life) because when you get to a certain cell tower, you know you're "at home" or "at work" and start looking for Wi-Fi.  Seriously cool.  Now, I'm hearing talk of adding "where" to system authentication.  No longer will it be enough to have your username/password (and/or other credentials)...now you have to physically be in the right location also.  WAY Cool!  Why so much focus on "where?"

 

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  • CWNP

Nigh Wi-Fi

http://www.ubnt.com/products/

Ubiquiti builds some neat stuff, I have to tell you.  I have a couple of their products.  Unique, compatible, powerful, simple to use.  But full-featured 802.11 radios, compliant with the various 802.11 amendments that live in the 700 and 900 MHz bands?  What?  "Based on 802.11g OFDM" the specs say.  Take note of the 600 mW output power on that 700 mW radio.  Yikes!

I hadn't really considered this type of thing until a CWNE friend of mine started checking out some new mesh products.  He asked me about the positives and negatives of such a thing, and the first thing I thought of was interoperability and analysis.   The Wi-Fi Alliance is only interoperability testing and certifying equipment operating in 2.4 and 5 GHz.  So, 700 MHz (public safety), 4.9 GHz (public safety), and 900 MHz (ISM) is kind of left out in the cold for now.  Additionally, analyzer vendors don't make drivers for cards that work in non-Wi-Fi bands, so site surveying, protocol analysis, and spectrum analysis is out.  That would mean you'd be flying blind.  No thanks.  Been there, done that.

 

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  • CWNP

MIMO 4x4 with TxBF Has Arrived - Dang That Was Fast!

http://www.quantenna.com/products-overview.html
 
Yep, my good friend Dilip Advani (CWNE #43) pointed this out to me recently.  Can you believe it?  Before long, we'll have data rates hitting 600 Mbps, with throughputs that will still be under 100 Mbps. :)  We'll have Beamforming, which will change how we wrestle with co-channel interference.  Beamforming will give us higher throughput at range and will stabilize our RF environment significantly.  This is GREAT news indeed!

My advice to IT Managers: When you see this stuff hit the market with a Wi-Fi Alliance sticker on it, find any excuse possible to throw 802.11a/b/g gear out the window (or sell it on eBay).  Obviously these new 802.11n chipsets will support 802.11r/k when the Wi-Fi Alliance version is released as "Voice-Enterprise", and likely whatever new standards are released for the next 3-4 years as well.  

How fast will vendors adopt these new chipsets?  Unknown.  You know, it's alot like 802.11r/k in fact - it'll all depend on the Wi-Fi Alliance's willingness to build and implement a test plan.  A year?  Two?  The standard is already in place, but that seems to matter very little, which is a bit irritating (though I certainly understand why things are the way they are).  I, like most everyone else, want everything now. ;) 
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  • CWNP

Customer Service...Hmph...You Ain't Seen Nothin'

I just got back from Ruckus Wireless's First Annual Big Dogs Conference.  It was the best thing since...sliced cheese. (inside joke)  Two long days of back-to-back meetings, but these were no ordinary meetings, and this was no ordinary conference.  Dreamed up, brought to fruition, and even MC'd by Ruckus's own David Callisch and his team of marketing geniuses (including June Eidson and Lisa Lavarias), this was a chance for Ruckus's customers, partners, employees (including all senior management and top engineers), and others with a vested interest to pour into one gigantic place to get to know each other, to share their knowledge and problems, and to become something akin to Ruckus family.

Now I have to tell you that Ruckus, for such a small company, knows how to treat its customers and partners.  Holy cow batman.  They spared no expense.  I felt like royalty, and for a country boy from Bremen, GA (yes, it's actually on Google Maps), it was...um..."off the hook...or chain...or whatever that saying is."  There were roadmap sessions (Niv kicked butt), sessions on RF design (Victor just rules), and my personal favorite: The Firing Line.  Yes, it's just what it sounds like.  CXO's and VP's were on stage taking pot shots from the quite-large audience for over an hour.  No question was off limits, and they did their best and were transparent and honest.  Big Kudos.

 

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