Monday, August 4, 2014

Teaser: Project Rawrbox - My idea for remote wireless diagnostics

So I'm sure everyone has noticed that the blog has quieted down a bit since #WFD6.  I could tell you that work's been busy, that I've completed my CCIE-W (#43153), but those are excuses.  I will put some more focus into the blog for the next few months as I wrap up some things in the real world.

What I can tell you is that I have been working on an new project that I hope to complete in the next few months.  I had hoped to have it ready to show off to the other delegates at #WFD7, but it's not going to make it.

The idea behind the project is simple.  A wireless diagnostic rig that I can ship to a remote site and perform basic packet captures, performance data and maybe even specturm analysis for under $250 USD.  The goal is to publish the software as an RPI image and give others the ability to use some of the tools I've built to create their own rigs.  The plans, software and image will be published for the community once it's finished.

Today the hardware looks something like this:

Raspberry PI B+ running latest Raspbian
High Performance MicroSD Card (Lexar)
3x USB Pigtails (2x RH, 1x LH)
3x USB Wifi Adapters (currently evaluating)
Pelican Case
TP Link PoE Splitter
Miscellaneous usb and power cables.

Currently I have a number of Python scripts to automate the packet capture process, uploading of files to both an FTP server and Cloudshark and am working the task scheduler right now.  I have support for AutoSSH for remote management.  Eventually there will be a web interface to simplify the operations, and a setup script to personalize the image to your environment.

There are some hardware limitations with the RPI hardware, but I'm hopeful that I can overcome most of these to get this project published soon.

Thanks for your patience and you'll see more on this soon.

Why SDN is coming to a wireless network near you

We are literally days away from the 7th installment of Wireless Field Day.  I'm really hoping (borderline begging) to hear a couple vendors talk about their Software Defined Network (SDN) solutions.  Now before you hop on the "Shut-up about SDN" bandwagon, here's why I see this as a hot topic right now.

I see SDN changing the way we build networks, and not just in the datacenter.  In the past we built large L2 networks and we eventually hit scaling limitations.  Then we started building routed networks, which solved the scalability problems, and introduced a whole new set of challenges around management of L2 domains, L2 adjacency requirements and troubleshooting routing protocols.

With SDN, the possibility arises where we could have the best of both worlds, and hopefully not the worst of both.  I believe that we will start building underlay L3 networks between our core and access layers, and all the L2 will exist as a dynamic overlay on top.

And since a lot of wireless vendors already have a tunneled overlays for their wireless traffic, the question is not IF SDN will be coming to a wireless network near you, but when, and how will that look.  Just the idea of having VXLAN dynamic overlays for your wireless clients, gets me all excited.  And with VTEP support being baked into silicon for switches, there are a lot of possibilities for new and innovative solutions to emerge.

I hope you will all join in on the Wireless Field Day experience this week, there will be some great discussions, both around SDN and other mobility topic.  All the sessions will be streamed live over at the