Tag Archives: Ventev

Mobility Field Day: Glimpsing a Complex Wi-Fi Future

          Take me home mamma, and put me to bed. I have seen enough to know that
I have seen too much.
                      (Announcer in “League of Their Own”)

Depending on where you are on your WLAN career arc, what I’m about to say may or may not make you a bit uncomfortable. That’s not my goal, but there are some complicated times a-coming, my friends. I’m writing this just a few days after I wrapped up participating in Mobility Field Day 1, and you can’t help but leave the typical wireless Field Day  event feeling like you’ve looked directly into the future of the WLAN industry a bit.

I’ve been known to throw out lofty observations like “Wireless Is So Not About Wireless Networking Anymore.” Then there was my white-hot Napkin Drawing. Even when I’m in the thick of doing wireless, I can’t help but zoom out to 10,000 feet and try to see the Big Picture of Wi-Fi. That big picture has certainly changed since the early days of 802.11, and you could say that my journey is really just riding the evolution of wireless networking such as it is. What I saw at Mobility Field Day is more evolution, and a few years from now we’ll look back at and think “yeah, that was cool… but not SO BIG of a deal in retrospect.”

Yet, in the here and now, things that are coming our way ARE big deals. They are still new, unfamiliar, thrilling, cool, and need to be learned and assimilated into our daily Wi-Fi Pro mindsets. Here’s a few “Wow Topics” that jumped out at me during MFD:

  • Ventev’s Street Furniture Wi-Fi As demands for wireless networking become more pervasive far and wide, the question of “so, how do we put it THERE?” gets asked a lot. Ventev has a really interesting line of outdoor antenna solutions coming out later in the year, as shown in the linked video.
  • Nyansa’s Voyance cloud-enabled analytics. The intro and overview to this fascinating and innovative approach to analytics, support and Wi-Fi troubleshooting is here. The demonstration and accompanying discussion is here. Watch for more coverage of this interesting startup, and it stands to reason that others are likely to follow the example of cloud-enabled multi-site data correlation as Nyansa’s baby gets exposure and customers.
  • Cisco Connected Mobile Experience (CMX) Cloud version. There is just sooooo much to CMX and so many different applications. I love that some of the complexity is moving to the cloud (please, God- let Prime Infrastructure go there too, soon). Video is here.  Cisco also wowed with a presentation on Flexible Intelligent RadiosWatch this video, and you’ll agree that things are getting pretty complicated in WLAN land.

Also in the bucket labeled Really Cool, and Quite Different: had a great session with Google on their OnHub approach to consumer Wi-Fi (it would also be at home on Star Trek), and Aruba Networks’ Chuck Lukaszewski talked more on 802.11ax- which may well be the most disruptive and complex standard of our careers (for many of us) when it gets here.

It was an exciting week, and I’ve just tipped the iceberg here. And like I said… these discussions show just how exciting the short future is in many directions for our Wi-Fi world.

Click the logo for all the Mobility Field Day 1 goodness.

MFD-Logo-150x150

How Does Ekahau ESS Stay Current For APs and Antennas?

EkahauSo I’m sitting on a bench at the mall, and this guy plops down on the other end. I can hear him sobbing a little. I’m thinking “poor bastard, must be a death in the family, or his wife split…” But then I hear his kid about 10 feet away say to a pal “my dad is a complete loser- he doesn’t even know how the world’s best Wi-Fi survey and planning tool gets updated for new APs and antennas!”

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: I really don’t know how it happens, either. I’m a loser too!

But there’s a big difference between me and Sobby Bench Guy. He’s not a gonzo bloggist with a license to ask the tough questions. That’s my turf, and that’s just what I did to get my mind right on the topic. I put on my Interrogator Fez and went gunning for everyone’s favorite European guy, Jussi Kiviniemi. Sure, he’s Ekahau’s VP of Wi-Fi Tools, but I don’t mind running in those circles now and then. I grilled Dr. J pretty good, and he gave me what I was looking for. Read on.

Q. How long does it take to get a new WLAN AP or antenna added to ESS, once Ekahau
has the technical information?
Jussi: Depending on load & urgency, it takes 1 day to 3 weeks to get it done. It’ll be published in next sw release (sw updates about every 2 months).

Q. Does Ekahau have a strategy for retiring old APs or antennas from the software
Jussi: Good question. Not really. Happens organically through Wi-Fi vendor acquisitions. We actually should probably take out the 802.11b stuff if we haven’t already 😉

Q.  How does Ekahau find out about new APs/antennas from the major vendors?
Jussi: It varies. Today, they often send the new or upcoming stuff proactively. That’s good for their business too. If not, we ask. Often customers ask us, then we ask the vendor. 

Q.  Why is it advantageous for vendors to get their stuff into ESS?
Jussi: A lot of their partners use our tool (we are tool of choice for Cisco, Aruba, Aerohive,…). And they often want to design using the actual stuff as it is more accurate. 

Q.  What’s the oddest antenna you’ve seen in ESS?
Jussi: At first, the Xirrus arrays were different. I wish we had the planner already back in the Vivato days, that would have been interesting. Also, the Ventev floor mount stuff is refreshing. 

Q.  Any other thoughts on the topic of adding products to ESS?
Jussi: I highly encourage the public and vendors to contact us to tell us which APs or antennas they are missing. It’s a free service to add them. Twitter, web site form or wifidesign@ekahau.com all work. 

We also add things like multi-SSID MAC combining as one radio, and multiple radios into one physical AP.  This requires specs from vendors too. 

And there you have it. Just a little behind-the-scenes information on how a great tool stays fresh. I’ll echo Jussi’s last point: if you see something missing, give Ekahau a shout to get the program updated. ESS is huge tool in the WLAN industry’s toolbox, so keeping it current is a win for everyone.

Additional Resources:

 

Look Beyond Your WLAN Vendor for Antenna Options

Look, Sport- you might get Wi-Fi… But do you really get ANTENNAS? (Maybe you frau-frau types call them aerials… whatever- go drink your Earl Grey and chill out.) If talk of wavelengths, gain, polarity, and the science of turning electrical signals into RF waves bores you, then move along. Stick with your cute little dipoles and be on your way. But if antennas jazz you, and you understand that this important tip of the communications spear can mold and shape your output and reception in the most incredible ways, well then I have some names to drop in your general direction.

Antennas have played a prominent role throughout my adult life. From my decade stint working and teaching Electronic Warfare to the years of subjecting my wife and kids to my latest homebrew ham radio antenna, I’ve learned much about the power of this component. That power is often overlooked in Wi-Fi, where many of my fellow WLAN professionals deal exclusively in captive antennas (the ones that you can’t see because they’re built in to the access point). But when it’s time to venture into the realm of external antennas, you have real choices. And those choices extend beyond the antenna options provided by your Wi-Fi vendor. Let’s talk about that bigger range of choices.

Get More Possibilities, And Maybe Save Some Money

External antennas add to the cost of any Wi-Fi installation. That’s just a fact of life. But the antenna vendors I’m about to mention just might save you a good buck over your incumbent Wi-Fi vendor, while providing interesting alternatives for a range of deployment scenarios. It’s what they do.

  • Ventev  all kinds of cool stuff going on. After all, these are the Terrawave folks that long-time WLANers are likely familiar with. From comprehensive site-survey kits to antennas for any “normal” situations to funky-cool offerings like their raised floor antennas, Ventev is worth being familiar with when you need a creative antenna solution.
  • AccelTex also makes a slew of Wi-Fi accessories and antennas for many industries and pretty much any application. Here’s an excellent video done at the 2016 Wireless LAN Professionals Conference, by Brian Smith of AccelTex on the topic of Dual Polarity Antennas in High Density Wireless Environments. As with Ventev, AccelTex offers many, many options and keeps current with leading WLAN vendors hardware.
  • Then there’s PCTelJust another interesting antenna vendor with a lot to offer.

Typically, when you shop for antennas you can usually find the exact (or pretty darn close) antenna that your WLAN vendor sells for a given application at a decent price from either Ventev, AccelTex or PCTel. If you buy a lot of antennas, the savings can add up. But you also get more than you pay for in that each of these antenna makers puts out top-quality gear.

Maybe antennas aren’t the most exciting things out there, but they are critical in Wi-Fi. If you’re out looking for antennas beyond the standard omni, it usually means that the success of your scenario will depend on the antenna choice and placement you decide on. Placement is up to you, and even the best antennas are at the mercy of the designer/installer for performance. But antenna choices? You have more than you may have realized. Check these companies out.