Tag Archives: Network Computing

The Little Adapter That Could… WildPackets Gives Us First 11ac Capture/Decode

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As we all sail into the 802.11ac years, we’re getting antsy about tools that will support this rather complicated and nuanced standard.  How do you support and troubleshoot an environment made up of clients each using any one of dozens of permutations of spatial stream counts, data rates, and channel widths in wildly dynamic environments?

There has been a fair amount of buzz around early-shipping 11ac access points and clients with lots of philosophical buzz about uplinks, PoE requirements, and such. But not so much of substance has been said on the “and here’s how you’ll troubleshoot it” front. Here at Wireless Field Day 5, we spent Day 1 with a couple of network tool-makers and got perspective on where Fluke Networks and WildPackets are both going for 11ac support. Each sessions were great, with more to follow on Fluke Networks in another blog. Here’s what went down at WIldPackets.

The short of it: Wild Packets provided delegates with a nifty little USB adapter that can do legitimate 802.11ac packet analysis on their latest (7.5) OmniPeek.

I recently wrote about 11ac troubleshooting and WIldPackets a bit in my Network Computing blog, and it was great to have the opportunity to sit in WIld Packets’ conference room and get a demonstration from a master- Director of Product Marketing Jay Botelho.

Each Field Day Delegate was outfitted with the Linksys AE6000 mini USB adapter, the custom WildPackets driver that makes it all work with the all-important promiscous mode capabilities, and an eval copy of the latest OmniPeek. From there, Botelho showed the process of 11ac support with OmniPeek, discussed the challenges of 11ac when tackled at the packet level, and got the delegates each equipped to do their own captures.

Fellow delegate (and Wireless Jedi) Keith Parsons documented the process for getting this arrangement to work on a Mac laptop running Parallels- a very good read.

Bluesocket Lives, Evolves Into Managed WLAN Services Offering Under ADTRAN

Back in the day, Bluesocket was THE commercial captive portal for wireless networks. As WLAN in general gained broader acceptance and the market widened, Bluesocket also started providing access points and morphed their captive portal appliance into a controller (like the WLAN big guns were starting to use with thin APs.) As this was playing out, Cisco, Aruba, and at the time Meru, were largely dominating the market and Bluesocket  didn’t generate a lot of buzz anymore. But- nor were they “over”.

My Own Bluesocket History

I have covered Bluesocket through the years for my column in Network Computing, like when the company introduced their initial controller offering, and then their virtual controller option. Network Computing also covered ADTRAN’s acquisition of Bluesocket in a piece done by colleague Steve Wexler.

On the personal front, I helped pre-ADTRAN Bluesocket develop a new guest access feature set that perfectly fit the needs of my University when our native Cisco wireless guest option was anemic by comparison. To this day we still  use the Bluesocket portal for guests, and though it may be a bit dated, it still has amazing administrative flexibility and works great for letting guests self-sponsor or be sponsored based on cell phone number as user name. (I made more than one plea for both Bluesocket and ADTRAN to spin this off as a separate product but they didn’t bite.)

Bluesocket also donated controllers that I took to Haiti on a humanitarian IT visit  that serve as the functional heart of two networks on University of Haiti campuses that me and my fellow volunteers created.

You could say I have a bit of a soft spot for Bluesocket given my history with the company and their products.  But after the ADTRAN acquisition, the already small player in the WLAN space seemed to get even quieter. But wait…

With their latest announcement, ADTRAN’s Bluesocket may be on to bigger things.

Following similar recent announcements by Meraki and PowerCloud, Bluesocket is throwing their hat into into the cloud-managed hosted WLAN ring.

ADTRAN calls their new offering ProCloud, and it hopes to empower channel partners, integrators, and service providers with the ability to provide hosted enterprise-grade WLAN offerings to customers built on established the Bluesocket vWLAN magic-in-the middle.

Also announced are ProStart (installation, service, and training for customers that can’t do their own wireless for whatever reason)  and ProCare (customer-selectable maintenance support options.)

See ADTRAN’s page on ProCloud,     and Business Wire press release.

Wireless is certainly a competitive landscape to begin with, and the expanding managed WLAN pot is starting to simmer with interesting players jumping in.  Though I get that ADTRAN and competitors see the hosted WLAN thing as an easy service-add for partners that don’t yet really offer wireless, I hope those who follow this path all don’t lose site of the fact that “easy wireless” doesn’t  automatically equal “good wireless” and that proper design and policy are still the cornerstones of successful WLAN.

I wish ADTRAN and my old Bluesocket friends best of luck in their new venture, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who will be following how managed wireless services will impact our industry.