Wireless Field Day #6 – Day Two Blog (Page Two)

Here is my Wireless Field Day #6 Day Two Blog (Page Two), with reviews of Xirrus Networks and Extreme Networks.  Page One will be coming in my next blog (I still need to review the presentation from Cloudpath).  My comments below are not a review of these entire presentations, but those areas that peaked my interest (and yes, my blogs are my own thoughts and opinions….).

(Note One:  You can review ALL WFD6 videos here (21 videos loaded at present): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDYqkVTVAHs&list=PLinuRwpnsHadRJ8BFyIGAEe7FjobbuKrf)

(Note Two:  I wanted to get this update done a few days ago, but something called “work” prevented any ‘same day’ blogging for Day Two.  And, there was an unplanned plumbing project at home, which is definitely another story…)

Xirrus Networks.  (http://www.xirrus.com)   Xirrus continues as an industry leader in the WLAN arena, and these areas were important:

  • Antennas.  Xirrus is one of the few WLAN vendors who thoroughly describe how their antennas work.  Presenter Avi Hartenstein brought back fond memories 0f building ham radio antennas and doing antenna design for my engineering project.  (did anyone else catch his reference to the Vivaldi loop?  Antenna geeks unite!)  Maybe this detailed antenna description and function was an attempt to help clarify some of  the “active feedback” on CCI that was generated after Xirrus’ last presentation at WFD#5?  At any rate, this was an excellent presentation.  I’m not sure of the antenna design level of other vendors, but one thing is for sure–Xirrus does a great job in their antenna design!

Totally unrelated comment: did anyone else notice the “Java update complete – click to restart” pop up box that appeared during Avi’s presentation?  Too funny! (glad they did not click it!!!)

  • Cloud-based.  Xirrus, welcome to the light side of the Force!  Previously, you were on the dark side (of controllers only) but have have come over to the light (as of October 2013, with a clarification that Xirrus had been planning on a cloud-based solution since the beginning of 2013).  Whatever the date– Xirrus, welcome to the light!  Cloud-based solutions are not a future WLAN deploy/management scheme.  Cloud-based is now and here to stay! (see my blog “Braveheart and the controller vs. controller-less battle” below at gcatewifi).
  • Aesthetics.  The larger Xirrus AP arrays continue to resemble something taken from the X Files or Star Wars! (UFO alert!  UFO Alert!)  Look, do the math:  the 8-radio XR4000 is 12.25 inches per diameter (from the Xirrus data sheet) and the XR6000 (8-16 radios) is 16.875 in diameter!  Wow–they are huge!  (Lee Badman…the Xirrian Air Force lives!  Or, are these arrays really NSA drones?  I’m just sayin’ ….).  OK, back to earth:  I realize these arrays have to be this large (for RF isolation, antennas, radio modules, and the pretty little ‘controller’ in the center of the array).  But, the ‘a’ word draws us back — ask any WLAN professional and they agree that aesthetics is a huge requirement in WLAN planning and deployment.  So, large Xirrus arrays in a manufacturing warehouse or convention center?  No problem.  Large Xirrus arrays in a museum of art?  That simply will not fly! (pun intended….).  (Unless the Xirrus array was in a museum of modern art?  Hmmm…)

Extreme Networks. (http://www.extremenetworks.com/)   (Cue NFL theme music…)  Yes, Extreme Networks has been selected as the “Official Wi-Fi Analytics Provider” for the NFL and with Super Bowl XLVIII, it will be interesting to see what feedback comes from the user Wi-Fi experience at the game.  (Oh, BTW–the sports writers in my local area say they are completely done with using Roman numerals for the Super Bowl!  Your thoughts?).

So, what does “Wi-Fi Analytic Provider” really mean? (read their press release and decide: http://investor.extremenetworks.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=819515).  Mike Leibovitz described how Extreme came into Gillette Stadium to set up (or fix?) Wi-Fi, and said all stadiums are unique and present their own challenges (WLAN is not one size fits all…).  The NFL wants the end user experience to be a positive one and have contracted with Extreme to provide analytics to make good decisions toward a better fan experience.  Sounds pretty exciting to me.  (they will be using IdentiFi as their recommended Wi-Fi technology for the NFL).

I also liked what Mike  said to start out:  when users leave their homes, they take their Wi-Fi expectations with them.  We as WLAN professionals know that Wi-Fi is huge, but I also see that we need to ensure we understand user expectations.  So, here’s a challenge and opportunity for us, who love to get our “geek on”, but sometimes do not always see things from the end user perspective.  (and the “802.11eh” protocol, invented in Canada, was a good one, Mike!)

Other thoughts from Extreme:

  • Bridge and centralize traffic at the same time.  Interesting,  especially for BYOD, in a single SSID.  Guess they sort of identify the device, then decide how that data is handled, per device identification.
  • Mobile IAM (Identity and Access Management):  Adaptive onboarding (active or passive), means that a device is  identified when it comes on the network and then it can be provisioned from there.  I continue to see that effortless onboarding is a big WLAN expectation, so maybe drilling down into this technology will be an interesting effort.  (now be honest, you don’t like captive portals either, do you?)
  • Stadium talk (again).  OK, it was “techie-cool” to see how Extreme does site surveys to deploy Wi-Fi in a stadium.  Check out the WFD#6 YouTube video for all the details, but this point grabbed me: stadium Wi-Fi deployments are both physically-based (no two stadiums are alike) and regulatory-based (FCC regulations in the US are not the same as those in Europe, Asia, etc).  It is going to be neat to see how stadium Wi-Fi deployments unfold in the NFL and other large sporting venues worldwide. (I’m looking forward to seeing Wi-Fi at Raymond James stadium.  After last season, the Buccaneers could use a bit more RF to light up their game!)

Check out my Page One blog in a few more days.  But, be sure to mark your calendar now for Wireless Field Day #7 on August 6, 2014!  I’ll be there, streaming live…will you?


OK, I promised my daughter (who is a senior in high school…and…who is drum major of her marching band, who just won Florida State Marching Band Championships back-to-back…and…who plays an awesome clarinet and writes her own music…and…OK, enough of the proud papa comments….) to please mention her blog on my next post.  So, I will — check it out:  http://www.whiteblankpageeachday.blogspot.com.  Thanks!

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