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Cool New WLAN Technologies on the Market

Over the past year, a plethora of new and cool WLAN technologies have been introduced based on several key innovations including direct device-to-device communication, new protocols like 802.11ac and 802.11ad, and cloud as well as BYOD developments.

Here are a few of our favorite technologies and products that have come to market recently. As always, we’re interested in hearing about other WLAN technologies that have grabbed your attention. Please leave a comment and let us know what your favorites are, or if you just have something you want to share.

Cisco Catalyst 5760 WLAN Controller
This WLAN controller, when paired with the Catalyst 3850 switch, provides a tightly integrated wired and wireless management system, which is exactly what is needed in today’s rapidly expanding wireless deployments. Both are based on a new Cisco programmable ASIC called the Unified Access Data Plane, which, according to Jim Duffy at Network World, “is designed to converge processing and termination of wired and wireless traffic into a single data plane, enable consistent services to be applied to both, and allow for deployment of software-defined networking services.”

Why do we like it?

Typically wireless networks are built as overlays to the wired network, which oftentimes results in two networks to manage, and makes it difficult to configure, monitor, and troubleshoot networking features that cross the wired/wireless plane, like QoS and security. And as wireless networks grow these problems become more and more difficult to manage.

Collapsing these networks into one provides better overall wireless performance and consistent management, especially if your environment allows for a lot of mobile devices. Only time will tell if the goals of the product live up to expectations – it went GA on January 29th of this year.

Jim provides a great overview of this new technology, as does Jeffrey Burt – you can find his article here.

802.11s: Mesh Networking, Extended Service Set
802.11s was part of the 802.11-2012 roll out. 802.11s enables mesh networking, which specifies an architecture and protocol to create self-configuring multi-hop wireless networks. They are typically high-performing, extremely scalable, ad hoc networks often with no wired access as all.

Why do we like it?

Basically, mesh networking allows you to build a network anywhere. Primary use cases so far have mostly been in the public service/emergency management space, and most have been based on proprietary mesh technologies. 802.11s standardizes this technology, making it more interoperable and therefore more accessible and available to be adapted to wider business applications, like Wi-Fi access at large outdoor music events. That would certainly put a whole new slant on Woodstock…

Linksys Wireless-AC Universal Media Connector
Taking advantage of some of the latest advancements in Wi-Fi, including 802.11ac and Wi-Fi Protected Setup, the Linksys Wireless-AC Universal Media Connector is a great example of a “bridge” device. A draft version of the 802.11ac specification is already in play, and manufacturers are jumping in with both feet. But not every client device is going to be 11ac ready, and consumers are not going to upgrade expensive devices, like flat screen TVs, just to get built-in 11ac.

Why do we like it?

This Linksys device bridges that gap by providing 11ac communication from your Access Point (assuming it is also 11ac) to your media cabinet, with wired Ethernet connections to your client media devices, tried and true technology that even most older gear supports. This allows consumers to take advantage of the very latest in Wi-Fi technology without expensive equipment upgrades. Sounds like it’s time to transition the home Wi-Fi network to 11ac!

That’s just three of the many great advancements we’ve seen in wireless lately. Chime in and let us know what’s ringing your bell.

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