News

Security Improvements in Wi-Fi: An Ekahau Webinar

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Joel and Jerry on an Ekahau webinar. The topic I presented was on Security Improvements in Wi-Fi.

In this webinar, I touch upon three different security improvements:

  • Device Provisioning Protocol
  • Opportunistic Wireless Encryption
  • WPA3

While I go over a general overview of the topics, OWE gets a little detailed because of the frame capture I was able to obtain from Aruba Networks’ live demo from MFD3.

Check out the webinar and let me know what you think in the comments:

Mist Strengthens Partnerships

Mist has been hard at work forming partnerships with strong players, Juniper Networks, VMware, and Palo Alto Networks. Working alongside technologies which don’t have a wireless play, Mist complements each of their solutions by utilizing their AI and Machine Learning product.

Initially, it looked like a strategy to be acquired but with multiple firm partnerships, it can be seen as a jab to the competition which has been acquiring WLAN companies as part of their portfolio.

Mist has extended their reach into a copious number of new potential customers who are in search of API-driven technology leveraging artificial intelligence.

By joining forces with Palo Alto Networks, both companies can take advantage of policy creation. Pushing security policies from the perimeter of the network once a threat is identified and pushing it down the network all the way to the edge where the user devices reside. Security can get a little more simple with consistent policies applied throughout the network.

Working with Juniper Networks, Mist helps provide visibility and insights into both wired and the wireless network. Again, artificial intelligence is looking to make IT teams become proactive when it comes to user experience. We’ve seen Juniper take a stab at wireless and let’s hope they’ve found their groove.

VMware has their infrastructure deep in a lot of data centers. The story remains the same. More visibility using artificial intelligence. VMware wants to know how users are interacting with applications over the WLAN.

With APIs, IT teams can now see what’s happening on both ends and be proactive in resolving issues that crop up.

The expansion of Mist into different areas of the network isn’t something we shouldn’t brush off. The API first mentality may give IT the innovation it needs to thrive. Whoever can develop the solutions to tie all these vendors together seamlessly can gain an immense upper-hand in this business landscape.

Meraki Go Launches

What’s left? The small and home businesses! Meraki released a new line of access points aimed for the small shops called Meraki Go.

By the tap of an app on a mobile phone, a wireless network can be live within minutes. Taking some features from their enterprise dashboard, a business owner can set some basic application thresholds, security, and other settings.

Using the strength of the brand name and simple dashboard, Meraki is enticing users with competitive pricing on the Go access points.

This is targeted to really small businesses, no more than 10 people or 20 devices. The critical piece will be the simplicity of the app in configuring the network.

The problem will be in troubleshooting. I don’t see how a small IT shop can help manage the wireless network unless they’re sharing credentials with the owner or taking over the installation completely.

But is this a path Meraki should be taking? Creating another product line? Meraki should be focusing on making the current offering better, developing more APIs, improving the hardware, AP antenna offerings, I can go on.

I’ll say I’m not sure about this direction. It will pull resources away from their enterprise products. But knowing Meraki and Cisco, there’s a large customer base worth taking.

The Story Behind the Ekahau Hat

During Cisco Live 2018 in Orlando, Florida we were able to meet up with Jussi Kiviniemi from Ekahau. We were enamored with the Ekahau hat which was being given out at their booth.

The quality of the hat is exceptional. There’s even a little detail inside the hat with reference to the Simpsons. If you’ve received a Sidekick then you know what I mean.

Minimalism is key. If you’ve used Ekahau, you know what the bar represents on the hat and I think it’s a genius idea.

Another great detail about the Ekahau hat is the reflective sticker on the top.

François asks Jussi about the hat and the story.. just check out the video for yourself.

Meraki Health Aims for Rapid Root Cause Analysis

Meraki Health

Cisco Meraki is rolling out the new Meraki Health dashboard to customers. The goal is to allow IT staff to quickly identify root causes to various Wi-Fi issues. It’s the common trend amongst cloud-managed Wi-Fi vendors.

Troubleshooting Wi-Fi connectivity is a difficult skill to master by an individual. Without the in-house expertise, IT is often left relying on dashboards to tell them what’s wrong.

Heuristic Approach

Meraki Health is taking a heuristic approach to troubleshooting. The dashboard uses a technique to help in problem-solving by learning and discovering what’s happening on the Wi-Fi network. Then those root causes are presented on-screen.

This new visual method of troubleshooting allows a quick look into what types of issues clients are experiencing. It can be narrowed down to specific access points and into types of applications.

The Client Journey

We’re provided insight into the client journey on a Wi-Fi network. Meraki Health takes a look at 5 different steps of the client journey:

  • Association
  • Authentication
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • Latency

At each step there’s a visualization into the percentage of successful or failed connections. Breaking out each step provides a simple approach to troubleshooting and getting down to the real cause of the issue.

An example could be at the authentication step with a user incorrectly typing in the password for the SSID.

Latency visibility offers insight into how applications are performing over Wi-Fi. Latency is broken down into traffic types, drawing similarities to QoS traffic types. The visualization indicates the percentage of latency traffic encountering poor performance.

The scope can then be narrowed down to specific applications such as YouTube, Skype, or other applications.

View of the Meraki Health visualizations.

Spotting the anomalies

Rowell’s Take

It’s a great addition to the Meraki solution. By giving the power to network operators, they are more capable of solving some of the most common Wi-Fi issues. The biggest advantage with Meraki Health is the ability to solve these issues quickly.

What I find interesting is Meraki Health takes a heuristic approach rather than stepping into artificial intelligence and machine learning to take troubleshooting to the next level.

Meraki can leverage their cloud infrastructure to build a solution which can help solve issues automatically by learning client traffic patterns and flows to help the network tune itself. For example, seeing where an area is about to become highly dense with devices and capacity is to increase.

The dashboard can help network operators become more proactive over these situations by bringing it to attention before the event impacts clients.

François’ Take

Meraki is often used by customers having a small IT team without extensive Wi-Fi expertise. So this new feature is a great tool which will help them to troubleshooting day-to-day Wi-Fi issues. I won’t be surprised if this feature keeps getting better over time so it can be used and understood by most IT professionals.

I believe it is very interesting to see network companies spending more and more time on developing software which will help the customer provide a better over solution. It is just the beginning. I am expecting to see more and more vendors coming out with software solutions in order to complement their hardware offers and help the users better take advantage of the hardware. It is also a way for them to create a competitive advantage over the competition.

User experience is very important for me on every project I work on and that’s why I like this new Health feature as it helps us to provide a better user experience overall.