Good point Darby. Although I think the biggest competitor to Cisco is sometimes its older install AP's sometimes. Funny but I've met quite a few folks recently who are considering Aerohive purely because they have old fat AP's and don't really see the benefits to their networks of the centralized controller model.
I'm actually involved in a competitive bakeoff right now, Cisco is here Thursday will be interested to see what they bring to the table.
That's the trouble I'm having with one of my Cisco SE's. They want to start selling the 5500 Controllers and not the 4400's. The trouble with this is trifold:
1. We presented and planned for the 4400's.
2. We budgeted for the 4400's.
3. We standardized on the 4400's.
The same can be said for the WCS and for the 1242 APs. In fact, I'll probably be asking for close to another 100 APs just to be Apples to Apples with my Northern counterparts, despite having perfectly functional 1131AG's. The issue comes down to the end-users having one seamless wireless experience anywhere in the enterprise. Period.
The days of "a little of this" or "maybe it works here but not there" are gone. Either they work everywhere or nowhere.
We as a company have the philosophy that we are determined to drive out own destiny and not be led or bullied by vendors. This means we make our decisions in matters such as these.
Now this also means that when we are ready to upgrade, it will follow a cycle, and will be a forklift upgrade, to meet the objectives as stated above. It'll be more expensive when the time comes. But it will be comprehensive and cohesive.
I can't see going back to Fat APs except in the most desolate of cases.
First off, there's a big different between fat APs in the autonomous WLAN architecture and fat APs in the distributed WLAN architecture. Comparing the Aerohive fat AP solution (distributed architecture) to, for example, a Cisco fat AP solution (autonomous architecture) is like comparing apples and oranges.
Second, regarding AirDefense spectrum analysis, have a look at the screenshots in the spec sheet (link below). This should answer a few questions about resolution quality. Again, comparing Cisco spectrum analysis with MOT/AirDefense spectrum analysis is like apples and oranges.
I agree there is quite a bit of difference between the solutions, as I said good on Cisco for raising the bar. I was pointing out that the perception that (even if they are apples and oranges) only Cisco does spectrum analysis is not exactly true as Motorola had through Air Defense spectrum analysis AP's for quite a while. Previous to offering the capability in their 7131's, Air Defense had dedicated sensors. I agree with you the resolution quality is not the same, which is a big deal for us wireless engineers but I can also see the sales guys from Moto and Aruba going in and saying 'well we do that too, its the same really' and succeeding because the customer really couldn't see what the difference was.
This was also the point of what I said about Aerohive's solution. The customers that I have spoken with that didn't like the centralized controller model and still had fat AP's saw Aerohive as an advance on what they already had. Again I can agree its an entirely different architecture but the difference between what I know and understand (even if I try to explain it well to the customer) often comes up against the customer's perception of what is comfortable for them. How many people do you know who have gone with Cisco as their solution based purely on their perception that they know Cisco and are comfortable with it? I know a lot.
Good points, Chris. I totally agree. After all, it's all about the Benjamin's...I mean, the customer (the customer's perception, that is).
Umm... I prefer what I know and I know Cisco.
Make no mistake about it, when it comes to picking a vendor, I (as an end-user) will "ALWAYS" default to selecting one vendor to point my finger at for a solution. Quite frankly, I've been very satisfied with Cisco over the years and in my estimation they are still the 800-pound gorilla.
In the event another vendor is entertained, the fact of the matter will be that the new vendor being entertained will have to make a case for itself.
As long as I'm the guy getting up at or staying up to 3am in the morning... I'm probably going to stay with Cisco wherever and whenever possible.
There's more to it that "just wireless", there is the support and peace of mind, that is... what's the word?
I applaud other vendors for sticking it out and maybe they will have differentiators that will help them get bought out one day by one of the big guys. However, that feature (those features) has to make them the entree and not the appetizer of the meal. In the end, I think most networks want a wireless infrastructure that works with their wired infrastructure - less pieces to dissect when the chips are down.
Now, some folks here work for other vendors, and to be honest, if I were doing so, I'm sure I'd stand behind my product and employer as well.
I have the luxury of being the end-user.
So I see things from a different perspective. To be honest up until I started studying for the CWNP, the Wireless network - at most employers is a "Nice To Have" and that is mostly even when it is performing a business function that might be deemed important.
The hospital networks have a legitimate business need and so it gets more attention and there are some other venues to be sure.
However, most SOHO or SMB networks may not even think of Cisco due to cost (outside of Linksys for example).
I think most of here are either in the business, trainers, or in the enterprise.
There are many different ways to skin the cat and most client just want wireless. You need to drill down to look at how to overcome the issues with each technology.
The fat ap design from Cisco was simply aps giving access, to get seemless roaming you needed to deploy WDS, either in the switch or the access point. There was no radio resource management unless you added the WLSE which was challenging to say the least.
Aerohive have deployed the controller intelligence to the ap, I dont know how much overhead there is or how scalable it is but Cisco have embraced a similar approach with their AP541. I am not saying they are the same just a similar methodology. I can see advantages in this as the solution scales naturallly if the overhead is low.
I think Meru advocate the single virtual cell, I need to get more info, however it works as I understand it with the access points in the virtual cell on the same channel. Now in my limited ability this contravenes everything we llearn about non overlapping channels. Dont know how scalable it is but equally I believe they use funky algorithms to allow only one client at a time in the virtual cell to talk so limiting bandwidth. I dont know. However I need to know more and I know people who have deployed Meru and love it.
Aruba are very good on security. Trapeze well I dont see much from them these days.
Moto will always be there and are really strong in retail and warehousing.
I think we will see alot more inovation over the next few years and the one I lik currently is Aerohive, again need to know more but I can see a real benefit with their intelligent aps.
It will be interesting to see the CWDp book disect the architecturesof each.
For Darby the big driving factor for the 5500 was 802.11n throughput. If you look at the bandwidth available and in the 4400, a max of 4Gbps against the 8 Gbps in the 5500 it marries alot better to higher throughput especially if we tunnel everything back to the controller, there are ways around that, there is a proposed 10Gbps module for the 5500 also the back plane hass better capabilities and more processing power.
The 802.11n access point that mos manufacturers are bringing out are compatible with their existing controllers and can usually be deployed on a 1 to 1 swap out as the WLAN matures.
Equally having chatted about the new CleanAir aps today the concensus is that Aruba let the cat out the bag to rain on Cisco's parade a little. Not played with Arubas or Motos solution but I am informed its software based an only looks at the wifi spectrum not the whole 24Ghz RF spectrum, the difference being that it can only see intereference based on the 802.11 standards, similarly in the 5.0 GHz spectrum,
What we really want is more bake offs so we can see performance and features.
The sales guys will sell it as spectrum analysis built in and the customer wont have a clue what it evn means never mind the subtle features and benefits of each.
I am still trying to educate clients about the differences between WEP, WPA and WPA2 then 802.1x.
At the end of the day looking at switched networks most are inherently secure and many of the features aren't used. Wireless is different as its inherently insecure. So many times we have to fight and educate our own sales guys its still a big scary wireless world thats only going to get more complicated.
I can understand you point of view as I have encountered it numerous times, btw I don't work for a vendor so I really don't have that bias. I will challenge you on that as being an intellectually lazy way to approach technology. I select the best available technology that will fulfill the requirements my customers need. If someone came to me to ask how they can get the best spectrum analysis in a multi use AP, I would point them to Cisco based on that. I would never take the viewpoint that picking one vendor to point a finger at is the primary default as that just means I encourage what I'm used to rather than what works best for the situation or network just because I'm too lazy to evaluate the pros and cons of competing technology. As to dealing with something at 3am in the morning every vendor I work with including Cisco has to deal with that issue. Its about training and making sure the vendor or VAR you work with is supplying you the information and support you need to get back to sleep quickly. Even if you were introducing a new Cisco network you would still need the training to be able to competently deal with that.
Every vendor I have dealt with, and I have worked with pretty much all of the major wireless vendors at this point, wants their customers to have peace of mind and a comfort level they can sleep at night. Every wireless vendor knows that most networks their customers are running are probably Cisco based and design their products to work well (and sometimes better) with Cisco products. You have every right as an end user to challenge a newcomer to validate their solution will work well with your environment, but to say you will only use Cisco just because they are Cisco encourages them to first of all gouge you because they know no matter what you will buy it and second of all to take you as a customer for granted. It also makes you blind to the reasons why you could pick an alternative and why in fact that solution may have considerable benefits for your business. For someone who has posted such thoughtful replies here frankly I am a little surprised you would not use a more thorough process to evaluate the technology you use.
I can't say I've never looked at other vendors. After a while I tend to gain a certain comfort level with what works and well remarkably well.
I'm not keen on being someone's "Alpha or Beta" lab. Sorry no in the production network nor with production apps.
As you noted, most vendors go out of their way to work with Cisco. There is a reason for this. So do the various devices that are going to work on the network.
Interoperability is a great thing. For things you "have to be" interoperable with. For everything else, there's Cisco.
That may change one day, and as network engineers, we owe it to ourselves and to our employers/clients to be aware of the differences. No doubt.
However, at the end of the day every vendor has to make a rock solid solution that works unquestioningly.
Personally, I prefer that which I know to a very detailed level. That is... Cisco.
I'm not alone here.
Very shortly, now that Cisco has entered the wireless training theater, we are going to see a herd of clients, users, students, and that means networks... herded and guarded towards the Cisco "kool-aid" watering holes.
This will have a significant impact on non-Cisco vendors, their R&D, and their ability to innovate. It will not totally stifle them, but Cisco won't be giving them much air to breather either.
I started my career in the era of having to explore everything out there because of a lack of standards. True we had selection but you know... the old west was full of flavor too... today we have roads.
Sorry if that sounds overly biased however, as a person who has come to learn that interoperability is great but one standard is better.... overall.
I just came from working for SunGard. I learned an important lesson there.
The group I worked for would visit a network - any network - and it would be in need of "improvement"...
Usually that meant - axing the CIO, and finding the little guy (who might well be a super-genius) with his finger in the dike and chopping that finger off....
Then a new damn was built. It was built in a methodical and standardized fashion based on "leading practices" and that was that.
Anyone ever hear of the Roman Empire?
See - I don't really care if it is right or wrong. I don't care if it is better or worse... I don't.
I want it to be standardized. Simple as that. One look, one feel, one network.
One-offs don't do it for me.
I used to be the McGuiver (however you spell it). The "firefighter"...
If you listen to ITIL long enough... they will teach you to identify your best "firefighter" and "FIRE HIM or HER".
It stifles standards and standardization.
You don't want a reactionary network. You want a proactive network.
You want AT&T's reliability. Everything else is gravy.
Sorry a la carte is great for a dinner. Not great for the network.
One network, one look, one feel.
Remember this: We are all expendable at the end of the day. The network does not have to work good or bad, it just has to work.
Leading practices makes that possible.
Having multiple vendors present on a network - sounds great in theory. In day to day operations? Nope! Not great. Not even close.
Nothing like having to keep up with "x" number of vendors - kinda like languages.
Sorry to be so biased on a vendor-neutral forum. There are plenty of areas where interoperability are still required. Hopefully less and less. It's always needed. No doubts.
However, it will always be a case of the lesser of two evils.
Sorry but that is just BS. I'm really gonna call you on that, standardization? That is just an excuse, anyone can have a standardized network and more so without just using a monoculture of one vendor. As to AT&T's reliability, iPhone dropped calls hello? Also BS. Even leading research publications now say just having a monoculture of one vendor across everything opens you up to security problems because just one issue appearing can take down your whole network. I have worked with some very large company's that have standardized wired networks with multiple vendors. You are just drinking far too much Kool Aid there buddy. As to Cisco stifling everyone else, that's also BS, why else do you think Aruba is eating away so much at Cisco's market share? You freely admit to not knowing much about other solutions then call everyone else solution 'beta' as if its not tested in the market or reliable at all. Also BS. You have a poor excuse in that you lean on standardization as if it is a panacea rather than actually taking the time to know the strengths and weaknesses of what the solution you favor is and recognizing the disadvantages of operating in a monoculture. I strongly disagree with every part of what you said there and that is because I have seen so many network admins with this attitude who come screaming when there network goes down and Cisco tells them sorry you aren't big enough for us to worry about fixing this problem. Good luck with your narrow view of how the real world works. I just hope your managers also know your blindness.