Monday, October 1, 2018

Outdoor WiFi is Smaller, Sleeker and Faster #HPE #Aruba #MFD3 #AP387

 Once upon a time, I found myself doing a lot of outdoor WiFi. Not the type of outdoor WiFi you hear people talking about now (stadiums or arenas), but college campuses, outdoor mesh and point to point links.

Recently at Mobility Field Day 3, I ran across this sweet little access point by Aruba. They call it the AP-387. I call it tiny, portable and FAST. It's their new flagship 802.11ac/ad outdoor access point.

They've designed it for maximum distances between APs of 300 meters (that's ~980 feet) and that is just about perfect for most outdoor bridge links. Notice, I said most. We all know of at least one or two bridge links that are pushing a mile long or more. This AP-387 has a 60GHz and a 5GHz radio built into this tiny, outdoor rated package and it is capable of multi-gigabit link speeds. Oh, and it can handle 'rain events' that might make a 5GHz link less than useable.

It has the ability to self-acquire a link by using the electronic scanning capabilities of the 60GHz antenna. It uses existing mounting hardware from the AP-270 (AP-270-MNT-H1/H2). If the link becomes disrupted or block, the radio can scan plus or minus 40 degrees horizontal and plus or minus 10 degrees vertical to re-establish the link. It can even re-engage the link through an RF bounce off of a flat smooth surface (should one exist) between the two ends of the link.

The narrow beam-width of the 60GHz radio lends itself to being co-located within 4-5 meters of another AP-387 using the same 60GHz channel. The AP will power on with the 60GHz radios backed off by 3dB if the AP is getting 802.3af power, which is way better than it not working at all unless it gets 802.3at power. You can see the full product demonstration in this Mobility Field Day 3 video and witness the graceful failover of the link from the 60GHz to the 5GHz radio without dropping the link. Skip to the 15 minute mark to see the link demo.

All of this is bringing me to this point. Doing outdoor mesh/point-to-point site surveys just got that much easier. The AP-387 weighs a fraction of the 17 pound (7.7 kilo) Cisco 1522 I used for my last outdoor survey (circa 2010).

I'll leave you with this video I made to document the insanity of me getting that 87 pound (40 kilo) site survey kit into the back of a Volvo 240 wagon once I'd completed the survey. Times have sure changed in what feels like a short eight years!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Meraki's LittleTable Isn't So Little Anymore #MFD3

Way, way back in 2013, I attended Wireless Field Day 4 and I heard a presentation by Sean Rhea of Meraki about their backend database LittleTable, how it was developed, how it worked and how it grew. A few highlights of Sean's presentation covered the server redundancy with data-center redundancy, service provider redundancy and location-redundancy. At that point, the scale per server was a few thousand Meraki devices (switches, wireless Access Points, MXs), hundreds of thousands of clients and hundreds of Gigs of data. The presentation was fascinating to say the least. Recently I had the opportunity to be brought up to date on the status of the Meraki LittleTable database by Jeevan Patil (PM for wireless) and I was a delegate at Mobility Field Day 3 (MFD3).

Meraki has a new (beta) feature in their dashboard called Wireless Health. It is a new feature they enabled in their dashboard that supports all of the Meraki access point models and didn't require their customers to add any additional licensing (or costs) to get this data. Approximately 750,000 networks worldwide now have the ability to see data on poorly performing client devices and access points in a single click. I powered on my older Meraki MR34 access points and added two new MR42 access points to my home (it is a 1928 Florida Faraday cage) and waited for the metrics to trickle into my dashboard.

Now I can see which of my client devices are behaving badly (authentication failures and latency issues). The LittleTable database is so efficient that over 250 billion rows written and one trillion rows queried to the database per day and millions of network devices deployed across 230,000 customers check-in to the dashboard daily. serves 800 million pages to 100 million clients who connect to the dashboard every day. The data in the dashboard is refreshed every second, this makes it extremely useful for troubleshooting. Now I know it is my iOS device is having the worst experience, which makes sense because my apple watch is often left on the charger and not on my wrist. It probably is having a hard time talking to my phone. They're rarely in the same room and my phone rarely has bluetooth enabled.

The Meraki dashboard is amazingly responsive (usually within a second of a click). The responsiveness of the dashboard is pretty amazing considering how many queries are being called every second to the backend database, all across the globe at any given time.

If you want to be brought up to date on what's happening at Meraki, I suggest you check out their video from MFD3 if you haven't already.

Cisco Meraki Mobility Updates from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Mobility Field Day 3 Approacheth #MFD3

Mobility Field Day is coming sooon. September 12-14th I will gather with 11 other MFD delegates in San Jose to take part in Mobility Field Day 3! I haven't taken part in a full length Tech Field Day event since Wireless Field Day 8 (and that was a long, long time ago!). A lot has changed since then and I'm looking forward to hearing the latest news from the participating sponsors: Arista, Aruba, Cisco, Fortinet, Mist, Netscout and Nyansa.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Düsseldorf Sights and Sounds 2017

It's been a long time since I've put words down on the Interwebs. Yes, it's true. Last year, David and I were invited to Düsseldorf by 
Düsseldorf Tourismus and Rheinische Post to see Kraftwerk play a concert in their home town and the concert coincided with the Tour de France Grand Depart.

We joined up with a press junket to tour the city, check out some shops, museums and galleries on top of the Kraftwerk concert. The members of the press group were journalists, authors, musicians and press agents. David was set up with press credentials to interview Wolfgang Flur and I was to be working the event as a freelance photographer. As such, I held off on releasing any of my photos to Flickr, Twitter or Instagram until I heard back from the magazine on which photos they wanted to use. Well, the contact I had at the magazine went on radio silence for many months, so I finally put my photos out online, but it really dampened my spirits to get no response to my query and it took me a long time to get reenergized about putting our pictures and video bits together.

I finally finished a video of the collected photos and video snippets we shot while we were in Düsseldorf. Music used in the video comes courtesy of Mike Donaldson via his site!