Saturday, August 19, 2017

Blogging and Vendor Blowback

I’ve been pretty fortunate that in my years as a blogger and a WFD/MFD delegate, that my employer has allowed me to express my opinions on this blog, attend these events and doesn’t pressure me to write about the vendors that we sell.  Likewise, the vendors that I sell have been quiet on the matter.  Maybe they don’t care, maybe I’m too small to worry about.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wireless: Vendors, Partners and You


Note: This is a post derived from one of my emails to the Educause wireless lan mailing list related to issues around certain versions of code and receiving different recommendations from the BU, TAC and Partners.

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One of the things as a partner I try to do is educate customers on is “who is recommending what, and why.”

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mojo Networks: Driving Value With Open Hardware Standards #MFD2


Wireless has always had somewhat of a vendor lock-in nature.  You buy APs from a vendor, you are likely stuck buying their controller, cloud management, etc.  And if their system doesn’t grow with you, continue to meet your needs or becomes a giant bug model where you just spend all day QAing someone’s code in production, it generally requires a forklift upgrade to another vendor's system.

The challenge here is having that other vendor’s software tied to their hardware platform, necessitating the need to forklift.  The sad part of this with access points is the hardware for APs are probably 90% the same. They likely come from Broadcom, or QCA, and are all based around the same basic technology. 
 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mist Systems: A first look

So I really didn’t want to like Mist Systems.  I haven't really gelled with any of the pure-cloud networking vendors and kind of expected this to be a "me too" play. So when Mist told the #MFD2 delegates they were going to send us an AP41 for us to play around with, I didn’t feel exceptionally excited.

That feeling lasted right up until I started using it.  Setup was quick, the AP was up and running quickly and a couple cheesy SSIDs later it was working. I've been very impressed with the overall performance and experience using the Mist AP41.

The Cloud Management:
At first I thought their cloud management was a reasonable knockoff of the Meraki cloud. But the more I use it, the more the differences stand out.  Onboarding to the dashboard with a QR code or Serial number was cool.  The HTML5 dashboard is very responsive.  I am in love with the correlated graphs, where you can mouse over one graph and it moves the line to correspond to the others on screen.  Overall, it feels easy and natural but not dumbed down, and is organized in a way that feels natural for most network and wireless engineers.



The Hardware:
The AP feels good, heavy in your hand so you know it’s not a cheap product.  I was disappointed that it’s vented, but not every AP needs to be in healthcare and wiped down regularly.  It doesn’t come with mounting hardware, so make sure you order that (Mist did offer to send us some, but my 3D printer was just sitting there).  

The vBLE:
I didn’t have time to build an app leveraging their SDK for the vBLE solution.  I really wish I would have had the time, because vBLE is how I was introduced to Mist Networks, and I wanted to kick the tires.  The setup seems reasonably easy, the BLE settings seem intuitive, but alas, pre-MFD2 it just wasn’t in the cards.  But it turns out they have a demo app on the Apple App Store.  Expect more on this in a future post.

SLA Based wireless:
There are others who do this, but this is by far the best implementation of SLA based wireless I’ve seen to date.  It’s not about uptime (although that is there), it’s about how users experience the network.  How long does it take to connect?  Get an IP?  Resolve DNS?  Those are things that directly relate to how the users experience the network.  You can set your own, or run with the defaults. 
 

In my house, with just a single AP41, I didn’t quite have enough coverage to cover both ends of the house.  My iMac in the office was at the other end of the house.  While it connected, it flagged for being out of SLA due to coverage.  I really wish I had another AP41, because the roaming aspect looks really cool.  Failed 11r roams, Slow roams, slow OKC roams.  As a wireless engineer, this is what I’m trying to get to the bottom of, so I can resolve these things.