Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day One - Wireless Tech Field Day (work in progress)

The morning started off with a great Chanalyzer Pro demonstration by the great people at MetaGeek. Ryan Woodings & Trent Cutler were awesome at explaining the ins and outs of all aspects of the MetaGeek company origins and how to customize the Chanalyzer Pro application.  I had previous experience using the ChanalyzerPro application since Ryan was kind enough to send me a Wi-Spy dBx and I tested it out and compared it against AirMagnet's Spectrum XT and Cisco's Spectrum Expert tool.

I was not aware that there were home sound systems that could be installed in light fixtures, and hadn't thought of using a Wi-Spy to identify an absconding shooter by find security cameras in the vicinity of a convenience store crime scene.

There have been a lot of advances to the Chanalyzer application since my demo license expired, but we were all gifted a cool lunchbox with all the MetaGeek tools inside, so I'll be back to using their ChanalyzerPro application asap!

Cisco started off with David Stiff presenting the Cisco CleanAir solution.  I've heard this presentation many times, and I've presented it several times as well. Based on some of the questions that were asked by other delegates - they were not as familiar with the CleanAir/WCS/Client Troubleshooting tool as I was.  I was glad that the information wasn't a repeat for everyone present.

Funny facts - the Cisco WNBU development team has code names for internal & external antennas: internal antennas are named after soaps, and external antennas trees. The AP I spotted with the code word written on it was called Larch.  Naturally I thought of the Monty Python Sketch 'How to Recognize Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away'

I'll be adding to this post with information about the MobileAccessVE Multi-Tier architecture and whatever great information Jameson Blandford (Cisco YouTube Star) will divulge to the Tech Field Day delegates.

...stay tuned

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gestalt IT Tech Field Day - The First Ever Wireless #TechFieldDay

In a matter of just a few days, the first ever wireless focused Gestalt IT Tech Field Day will be kicking off in San Jose.  The event is scheduled for March 17th & 18th, and all the last minute details are being finalized!

I've been making a list of questions about why things don't work a certain way, or will this ever be possible based on the questions I've been asked at customer sties.  I'm hoping that the questions I can't answer (and defy googling) will be answered by one of the sharp minds attending or presenting at the Wireless Tech Field Day.

I know for a fact that all of the delegates reached out to their industry connections to explain why they should sponsor this event.  Many emails were sent, many phone calls were made. I know I've called/emailed/tweeted every contact I've ever had at all of the wireless vendor companies I've ever worked with.  Some were hard to track down, but I wasn't going to give up until they'd said 'No' at least twice!  I've been helping Stephen Foskett make this event happen because I'm so excited that an event like this can even be organized, and actually happen!  However, Claire Chaplais is the person that really ties everything together behind the scenes, and makes this event come off without a hitch or a hiccup in the overall flow!  Claire and Stephen are a great team, and there isn't another event quite like a Tech Field Day.  I'm very glad to have helped put Stephen and Claire in touch with the connections I have to make a Wireless Tech Field Day happen.

When was the last time you heard of competing wireless companies coming together to put their best Subject Matter Experts in front a group of wireless engineering professionals that have an aggregate of over 62 years of wireless experience!  It is refreshing to see companies stand by their technology solutions and open themselves up to potentially difficult technical questions from the Wireless Tech Field Day delegates.  Everyone wins.

All the information about the event, the sponsors, the delegates can be found on the Gestalt IT Wireless Tech Field Day page.

The event will also be streamed live from  so don't forget to tune in!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

HP E-Series Mobility Portfolio

HP has launched a new series of access points through a combined development effort with the HP/Colubris development teams.  The new access point model numbers are the E-MSM460, E-MSM466 and the E-MSM430.

HP's goal is to bring a 'single pane of glass' management capability to the wireless and wired networks through integrating the HP Mobility Manager 3.10 into the existing IMC solution. Mobility Manager can be a plugin to an existing PCM+ installation.

The biggest news to me was the AP MSM466, which is capable of concurrent radio operation in the 5GHz band.  This allows the access point to increase the channel capacity to double the supported client count in high density deployments.  This published statistics for this access point indicates a maximum performance of 450Mbps per radio. Using two 5GHz radios in an access point is interesting, but there are still a lot of 2.4GHz clients in use on most every WLAN.  Having all your clients in a specific area being only 802.lla devices may be a reality for some enterprise deployments, but I'd bet that most have a wireless client mix that can't be controlled or influenced by the IT department.

The HP mobility line can support different modes of operation - AP, Mesh and Monitor (packet capture) modes.   The new features of the HP mobility hardware producte line are standards based beamforming (explicit) and band steering. There was no mention of the ability to do spectrum analysis with any of the HP access point offerings. The lack of spectrum analysis as part of their product offering does not allow the HP mobility portfolio to identify sources of interference. The HP mobility product line can only adjust the power and channel of the access point in reaction to sources of interference.

I thought the slide showing the comparison of the HPMSM410 and HPEMSM460 to the Cisco AIR-LAP1142N-A-K9 access point was a little misleading.

Mostly since the TxR:S numbers for each of the access points are not clearly stated on this slide.  The Cisco 1142N access point is a 2x3:2, and the HP MSM410 is a 3x3:2 access point.

 I found it interesting that the MSM410 performed only slightly better than the 1142N even though the radio in the MSM410 has three transmit and three receive antennas.  The comparison difference is marked between the E-MSM460 and the Cisco 1142N due to the fact that the E-MSM460 is a 3x3:3 access point.  The metrics on this chart show the E-MSM460 providing 150Mbs of throughput at a distance of 230 feet from the access point. This works out to be one access point every 1400 feet.  If this distance is to be used as the gauge for the cell edge, that's a pretty dense access point deployment!

One thing I found of note was the ability of the access point to be changed into an autonomous access point just by changing the operating mode on the access point from the controller. You're not required to change the code running on the access point in order to make the access point function independent of the controller.

The HP mobility solution does not use the CAPWAP standards-based protocol for their controller based solution.  HP uses a proprietary wireless protocol that is based on IAPP and using OpenVPN with UDP tunnels in order to simplify network connectivity on LANs using NAT. 

This mobility announcement from HP will be great news for existing HP mobility customers, but I am doubtful that customers with an already deployed WLAN infrastructure will find enough compelling features to make the switch to the new HP E-MSM product line. However, some customers may require the cost benefit of the next day replacement that is part of the HP lifetime warranty.