Tag Archives: CWNP

Quick Hits: Xirrus, Ruckus, Cambium, Mojo Networks, Nyansa, CWNP

I don’t typically do aggregation blogs, as I prefer to explore a topic or product first-hand and write it up with my own learned perspective. At the same time, I’ve been full-out busy of late and don’t want to not give these topics at least some minor attention in case you have an interest in any. So many cool things happening in the world of wireless…

Xirrus- New HD AP, With Flavor Crystals! OK, no flavor crystals. That was just to keep you hooked. But Xirrus has announced the new .11ac Wave 2 XA4 access point that does support external antennas (really unique for Xirrus) and claims to replace four traditional APs from the competition. Check it out, and if you’re a Xirrus fan or pundit, please leave a comment at the end of this blog.

Ruckus- What Comes Next? In case you missed it, Ruckus Wireless may be facing an uncertain future. The Big Dog was bought by Brocode not too long ago, and now Broadcom is buying Brocade. And… Broadcom doesn’t want Ruckus or the rest of the Ethernet portfolio from Brocade. Did you get all that? Here’s hoping that our Ruckus brothers and sisters all land on their feet. Ruckus has a loyal following, so many of us are watching this one closely.

Cambium Partners With Disaster Tech Labs to help Refugees- There is a tech side to the unfortunate human drama playing out daily on the Island of Lesvos, as countless refugees flea the horrors of Syria and other garden spots for Europe. Disaster Tech Lab goes  where it’s needed when trouble hits, and the need is strong right now on Lesvos. The organization has teamed up with Cambium Networks to provide a range of services for the refugees and those who are directly assisting them.

Mojo Networks Leads the White Box Movement. Mojo Networks is a WLAN vendor, yes- but they also have some fascinating folks on staff that are involved with the Open Compute Project (OCP) and efforts to evolve “white-box WiFi” into a viable option. If you’ve felt like you’re on the losing end of “vendor lock” you’ll probably find the entire notion fascinating. Here’s an interesting presentation from Mojo on the idea of open access points.

Nyansa Adds Application Analysis to Voyance. I’ve been following Nyansa since before they were public, with early NDA briefs on the very powerful Voyance analytics platform. It’s taking WiFi analytics to really interesting cloud-enabled places, and recently got yet another feature boost by adding application analysis to Voyance’s powerful network key performance indicators.

CWNP Awards 200th CWNE Certification. The best source for wireless training in the world has just hit an incredible milestone, and the honor and privilege are mine.

Now you know! Thoughts? Comments? Let ’em rip. 

Doing “The Paperwork” – the CWNE Application

cwne2Life is full of paperwork. As kids, we drag home endless school forms for everything from permission to ride a different bus to graduation paperwork. We fill out mortgage forms, military enlistments, juror forms, and marriage licenses. Life is paperwork, and we get pretty desensitized to the simple act of putting words on paper and handing them off to whoever is supposed to get them.

But some paperwork is sweeter than others. Some is exciting, thrilling, and makes you feel damn good when you do it. I was recently privileged to fill out some of that GOOD paperwork when I applied for my Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE) certification.

I won’t go into how I studied, or recommend what you should do to get to the point where you’re able to apply- many of my excellent CWNE fellows have already done that. But what I want to share is what getting this far means to me. I can tell you that crossing the finish line absolutely will have different significance to each of you individually. I’ve seen some who are very discreet about their top-level certificates, and others who find a great sense of identity in them. Here’s where I am, now that I’ve taken the journey…

I’m older than some in the CWNE demographic. My CWNE won’t get me a better job with my current employer (I’m a wireless network architect and next step up is my boss), and I’m not looking to find another job. I’ve been doing wireless for longer than many folks reading this have been working any job. So why did I go after the CWNE?

Many moons ago, I had CWNA and CWSP when both were new. I went off to school for both, got certified, and used what I learned. I used THE HELL out of what I learned. That knowledge has contributed to the unqualified success of the many WLANs I have designed, administered, and troubleshot. “Old” CWNA and CWSP, combined with my other network experience, work ethic, skills learned in college and a 10-year Air Force career, got me to where I am today in my networking and Wi-Fi careers. But I got busy with many other things, and let both CWNA and CWSP expire, because they couldn’t “get me anything”, or so I thought. But the more I went to conferences, watched new products roll out with new features, and see one 802.11 standard give way to the next, I realized that I needed to get back to basics because those basics had changed since I learned them.

I do know A LOT about wireless networking. And technology-related politics. And reading situations and adjusting to them when one solution isn’t right for given circumstances. I’m doing good in my career but realized that I could be doing better, with more confidence.  I’ve been around the wireless world and back, but the ground under me had changed through the years- and THAT’s why I went back to CWNP and worked towards CWNE.

I did learn, and reinforce much of what I already knew, by going through CWNA, CWSP, CWDP, and CWAP (in that order). I was humbled when I failed CWAP the first time- I don’t fail tests. Ever. But I did this time, and studied that much harder to pass it the second go round.

Then when it was time to apply for CWNE, reading over the application and writing the required essays gave me time and reason to reflect. Yes, I proved my “book smarts” on the certification exams. But spotlighting my experience through the essays and required non-CWNP certs gave me insight into myself: I have actually earned the title of Expert. A lot of people rely on me to wear that hat and to properly discharge the duties that come with being an Expert. I was reminded of that as I wrote up my experiences and realized just how much I have accomplished so far in wireless. The CWNE process has formalized that recognition for me.

And it feels pretty  damn good.

Now here’s the rest of the story for those keeping score at home. Being an Expert is different from being a Know It All. Any one of us in the CWNE community can likely bubble up a topic or two they feel weak in, and have no shame in admitting to such. The day I have nothing left to learn will actually be depressing, because every day I pick up some new tidbit of wireless knowledge and look forward to that.

And now that I’m a CWNE, I have continuing education requirements for keeping the title that I’m rapidly coming to enjoy. CWNP recognizes that the WLAN world changes, so CE will help those of us with ANY level cert to stay fresh with what we know. And when I turn in my first CE paperwork, that will feel good in it’s own way, too.



CWAP-402 Is Here!

It’s been a long time coming, but the Certified Wireless Analysis Professional (CWAP) course from CWNP has been updated. The 270 version was retired at the end of June, and the current version is 402.

Regarded by many who are chasing their CWNE certification as the hardest of the exams in the program, I can assure you that CWAP is challenging. At the same time, 402 is an excellent upgrade that re-thinks the notion of wireless analysis and it will absolutely teach you much as you prepare for the exam. What you learn isn’t throw-away content, either; real-world WLAN professionals will draw on this body of knowledge throughout their entire careers

The overview for CWAP can be found here.

The Kindle version of the new study guide is available on Amazon, by clicking the image of the book cover.


Best of luck with your CWAP studies, or whatever you happen to be studying now.

You ARE studying SOMETHING, yes?




What’s Not Being Mentioned For Google Glass 2.0 Signals a Bigger Disconnect

Google is at it again, and you don’t have to look very hard to find press coverage on the “coming soon!” next edition of Google Glass. Here’s one to orient you in case you’re not caught up yet. Beyond “Enterprise Edition”, I’m also seeing it referred to as “For Work”, and even 2.0. Let’s see which one sticks… With the words “enterprise” and “for work” being associated with the new version, I’m here to tell you that trouble may be brewing for the WLAN industry, for clients, and for those who run wireless networks. I hope I’m wrong on this. But regardless, there’s a big fat stinky elephant in the room.

Let’s zoom in on some of what’s getting people all excited about New Glass. This screen scrape comes from the above-linked article:
Glass 2

That the new unit has dual-band support (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) on Wi-Fi is indeed a step forward. But of the dozen of so articles I looked at on New Glass, I see no mention whatsoever that this model will support enterprise wireless security (based on 802.1X). The first one did not, which brings us to a number of points of concern:

  • The fact that “IT journalists” can look right past wireless security when they get all gushy about new devices is troubling. I’ve ready cheesy articles about Original Glass being a wonder tool in the operating room (kind of like the worshiper/journalist who declared Chromecast as being perfect for enterprise board rooms far and wide). Evidently if the product is COOL, wireless security is irrelevant to many writers.
  • The once-great Wi-Fi Alliance HAS been security-focused in the past. They came out with pre-802.11i security measures to plug holes in early 802.11 standards, and did wonders for the industry by advancing the message that WLAN very much can be as secure as wired networks if designed and implemented right. But somewhere the Alliance backed off, and became an advertising agency for it’s members rather than a steward of secure WLAN. Rather than beating the drum for clients that can work at home AND in the enterprise setting where many migrate to, the recent message is basically “wireless is good, buy more wireless.” Ugh. We need cheer-leading for SECURE wireless, not just wireless, now more than ever.
  • When Glass 2.0 hits, it will have a line of wannabe users stretching out the door, from all professions. It’ll spark as many “wouldn’t it be cool to use it like THIS…” ideas just as the original did. Users then didn’t care about WLAN security, and they won’t with 2.0 either. That should be Google’s responsibility- if the powerhouse company wants it used At Work, the device needs to be made to fit into Work Wireless. It can’t demand that we all change our business WLAN environments or build one MAC-bypass portal after another because WLAN security was left out. Where Enterprise WLAN admins can’t easily put one-offs on the WLAN (and original Glass was very much a one-off), users get pissed off. This many years into the wireless thing, the industry ought to be past the fragmented state of client device capabilities.
  •  Those of us in the business of secure wireless are trained that security counts (read CWNP’s Certified Wireless Security Professional course materials for reference). One common mantra is “if clients can’t do enterprise security, replace them with ones that can”. But we’re getting barraged with clients that can’t do enterprise security anymore. One side of the industry is not talking to the other, and the current dichotomy is not sustainable.
  • If there is a delineation between “consumer” and “enterprise” anymore from the client device perspective, it’s getting harder to find. Whether it’s the Amazon Echo, Google Glass, Apple TV, Chromecast, wireless weather stations, or printers and projectors, devices used at home 100% will find their way to work. In the current fragmented client space, we frequently have to violate our own policies to dumb down network security to accommodate the devices that were built on the lazy/cheap. Again, this is unsustainable.

Back to the new Google Glass. I don’t know that it won’t support enterprise security. But I really don’t expect it to. If that’s how Google plays it, well then shame on them. But one fact prevails- you can’t have low-security devices on high-importance networks and not have eventual breaches as a result. I’d love to see Google draw a line in the sand here, and say “Glass 2.0 is 802.1X capable!” and then play that up big-time to educate the masses on why that’s important.

And, I want a pony.


Fantastic WLAN Conference on the Near Horizon

As we close out 2015, many of us that consider ourselves wireless professionals are planning our training and conference agendas for next year. (Soapbox moment: wireless changes fast. Methods, solutions, culture, industry trends. If you don’t HAVE a training agenda for next year, make one now. Even if you don’t have travel budget, there is a lot you can do from your own corner of the world- minimally make a list of things you want to learn or get sharper on, and then figure out some way, any way to meet those goals.) If you are conference or training shopping, I suggest that you consider the 2016 Wireless LAN Pro Conference.

I wouldn’t recommend WLPC if I’d never been there. The 2016 event in February will be my third outing, and it has become my favorite of any conference. I’ve done CiscoLive!, Interop, and a number of others regularly, but here’s why I find WLPC to be the one to go to, if you can only go to one:

  • It’s all WLAN-oriented
  • It’s laid out well with excellent sessions
  • For the money, you get a lot, both in SWAG and in content.
  • The people. From the organizers, to the presenters, to the fellow attendees, this is a wireless-minded crowd. Every waking minute can have value if you’re receptive to that.
  • There are no vendor sessions, no sales pitches.
  • It’s a good mix of perspectives in play- you’ll find industry veterans, individuals that work for VARs or run their own companies, end users, newbies, and every other niche.

I don’t agree with everything I’ve ever heard at WLPC, as a WLAN vet “of a certain age” myself. At the same time, I need my own beliefs and philosophies challenged, and I continue to learn why others think as they do on the endless specific topics that make up our fascinating trade. From implementation approaches to policy thought to end-user experience and “how things ought to be”, this a thought arena where all opinions are valued and the Know It All Factor is minimal. That I like.

But wait- there’s more!

So it’s a great conference, yes- but there is also another draw to WLPC. For those interested in the highly-respected CWNP certification training, there are also in depth training sessions conducted by industry experts.

As I write this, I’m told these are the open sessions: 

  • CWAP – all 15 are sold (may be another session if enough demand)
  • CWNA – 10 available
  • CWSP – 5 available
  • CWDP – 6 available

And the excellent instructors:

  • CWAP – Peter Mackenzie
  • CWDP – Tom Carpenter
  • CWSP – Ronald van Kleunen
  • CWNA – Devin Akin

As per the organizers “We will open a waiting list for the CWAP – if we get enough we will hold a second CWAP class concurrently. ”

If you can make it, I hope to see you there.