Impressions of WFD7 (Day 1): Drones, Noodles and SDN

WFD-Logo2-400x398Impression (def.) the effect or influence that something or someone has on a person’s thoughts or feelings.  Wireless Field Day 7 was a whirlwind of activities:  new WLAN technologies, presentations, driving, vendors, coffee, food, new relationships, more driving, more coffee, more food,  WLAN tech-filled evenings with delegates and vendors, and then you return to the hotel room and crash each night with your mind “on fire”, pouring over all the tech stuff of the day! Oh, and did I forget to mention:  this was one of the greatest experiences in my Wi-Fi career!  So here begins my first of three blogs: Impressions of WFD7.

  • Disclaimer #1:  The vendors/presenters did give each of the delegates branded merchandise, sample products, memorabilia, meals and beverages.   A hearty “Thank You” to each vendor who provided these items from this grateful delegate!   As I acknowledge these products and services, it should be noted that nothing provided has any bearing or influence in my personal comments on the technology presented at WFD7.
  • Disclaimer #2 (personal):  WFD7 was great, but when I returned to work, I had a lot to do after being gone for a week. We also took our daughter to college to begin her freshman year.   No apologies–just a simple explanation that now I have time to blog about WFD7.  Kind thanks for your understanding.
  • All WFD7 archived videos can be found here: (YouTube and Vimeo)  http://techfieldday.com/event/wfd7/

20140824_155950Fluke Networks David Coffin, Fluke CTO, welcomed us to the “world headquarters of wireless measurement”.  No doubt, the work of WLAN professionals is vitally affected by the use of Fluke products.  Dilip Advani (director of product marketing for AirMagnet/AirCheck) announced that Wi-Fi Analyzer PRO now supports full 3×3 capture and analysis.  John Anderson showed a 3×3 adapter to use in Wi-Fi analyzer PRO with ExpressCard adapter for Windows laptops.  However, the delegates were pretty much 100% in agreement that this really needs to be upgraded to a USB 3.0 solution (and my Twitter feeds agreed as well!).

The “totally rad” part of the Fluke presentation was the drone!  WLANs have been hacked by APs mounted to drones recently and Fluke has now updated AirWise to include drone and Google Glass detection (Blake Krone — Google Glass expert, beware next time you visit Fluke!).  Yep, as the drone ‘flew’ in the conference room, AirWise found it!

Impressions (a.k.a. Takeaways):

  • Dilip Advani: Wi-Fi end user experience is all about throughput, not speeds.  (Can I get an Amen here?)
  • Fluke continues to raise the bar in providing up-to-date 802.11ac survey and analysis tools (3×3 support, new features in AirMagnet)
  • Keith Parsons: “Native” Mac support has five letters (it’s actually six, but due to the passion of the moment, we will cut Keith some slack)  Seriously, which vendor will be the first to provide a true Mac site survey solution? (Fluke, Ekahau, TamoSoft–are you listening?)
  • And yes, the drone was pretty cool — but, the delegates didn’t get a chance to fly it!  😦

20140824_155519I have followed AirTight since they moved from WIPS solutions to AP hardware and managed service provider software.  And since I am a huge controller-less advocate, AirTight cloud control falls right in line with what I consider to be the best way to deploy a new WLAN.

  • Insta-WiFi was introduced as an application that makes setup and configuring APs especially easy to do and is a big value-add for small businesses that have no IT staff.
  • Social Wi-Fi is huge today and two customers told their stories about AirTight solutions:
    • Noodles and Company started with free public Wi-Fi and then added customer social engagement (and made it optional so the user could decide….)
    • Frontera Consulting utilizes an optional social sign on that allows technology to “scrape” data from a social media account to enhance the user experience.
  • WizShark is an fascinating tool that gives visual clues to help make Wi-Fi troubleshooting easy and enjoyable.

Impressions:

  • AirTight continues to draw my professional attention with their super-knowledgeable staff and easy to understand (and easy to use!) technology that “makes sense” for business today.
  • As for social Wi-Fi, AirTight has done it right by letting the customer decide if they want to opt into loyalty programs or social Wi-Fi logins.  Allowing the customer to say “no thank you–I just want free Wi-Fi” is the right thing to do!  Other vendors need to provide similar options.

20140824_155210Extreme Networks  Mike Leibovitz started with the ongoing mantra I continue to hear from Extreme (and it’s a great one….) — the consumer experience is important and IT needs to exceed customer expectations by providing Wi-Fi that is simple, fast and smart. OneFabric helps do that by bringing together a unified solution that provides a state table of all wired and wireless devices on the network.  SDN (software-defined networking) took a significant part of the presentation time and how it will affect WLANs.  SDN is making an impact on data centers, slowly impacting wired networks and it’s in a very early phase with WLANs.

Impressions:

  • SDN is an interesting and complex concept; it is not ready yet for WLANs.  Extreme had some great presenters that helped explain how SDN can help the WLAN.  But when pressed, Marcus Nispel said in 24 months, SDN will be seen in a very specific and focused deployment scenario and as for WLAN campus infrastructures, deployment will not be ready for 2-4 years.  SDN looks really great on the radar screen and R&D should continue.  However it’s just not ready yet for prime-time WLANs..not yet.
  • Licensing was another topic that came up in this presentation.  Extreme has some incredible tools and licenses are associated with them.  Although no one is required to purchase all the tools, if the licensing costs are not palatable, potential clients will seek out other vendors.
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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Impressions of WFD7 (Day 1): Drones, Noodles and SDN

  1. Thanks for reminding me about the 5-letters… doh!

    • But–it was in the “passion” of the moment! 🙂 Your comment brought light (well needed…) on the question–when will a big player step up to the plate and come up the a native Mac site survey solution? WLAN profs will be camping on the doorstep of the vendor who does it. And then, do it like Metageek does–if you buy a copy of their inSSIDer, the license allows you load one copy on a Mac and one on a Windows PC for same price–which I have done at home!

  2. Pingback: Impressions of WFD7 (Day 1): Drones, Noodles and SDN

  3. James A

    As an Extreme customer who has all the fruit (IdentiFi, NetSight, MobileIAM, Purview), it’s pretty affordable. Certainly no more expensive than a comparable Cisco solution.

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