Podcast

CTS 181: Cisco Catalyst 9800-CL Setup

Rowell’s post: https://rowelldionicio.com/deploying-cisco-catalyst-9800-controller-on-vmware-esxi/

François’s post: https://www.semfionetworks.com/blog/setup-cisco-catalyst-9800-controller-on-your-laptop


Cisco introduced the new Catalyst 9800 Wireless LAN Controller: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/wireless/catalyst-9800-series-wireless-controllers/index.html

One of the main new features was the fact that they released a cloud version (escentially a VM) that you could install pretty much anywhere you want:

  • On a private Cloud
  • On a public Cloud (AWS)
  • Locally on a computer or server

They call it the C9800-CL.

Benefits:

  • No need to maintain a physical controller. Gives you access to the advanced features without having to install hardware.
  • Could be used for lab and quick testing.
  • Easier to scale. Start small and scale up as required.
  • Take advantage of the advantage of a public cloud infra.

We went through the setup process two different ways and wanted to share our experience:

  • Installing on a local mv on your laptop (vmware fusion)
  • Installing on a small local esxi server

Hardware Required

  • To install it on vmware fusion, you don’t need anything apart from your laptop
  • To install it on a local esxi server, we used
    • Intel NUC with an Intel Core i7 processor (Important)
    • 32GB or RAM
    • 500GB of internal SSD
    • 8GB USB SanDisk Cruzer Fit for ESXi

VMWare Setup

C9800 Initial Setup and Configurations

  • The zero day config might not be the best way to go if you want to learn how to configure the controller later on. It could be the easy way to go for a quick deployment.
  • Was easier to set it up via CLI the first time and then HTTPS into it
    • Configure the IP address, route, country code, user, management interface and generate a certificate to establish DTLS connections with the APs
  • Then you can open up a browser and connect to the C9800-CL via HTTPS

Connect an AP

  • In order to have an AP connected to the controller, you will need some sort of DHCP server

Note: VMotion is not yet supported.

CTS 180: Our Expectations for Mobility Field Day 4

Mobility Field Day offers the opportunity for vendors to present what they have been working on in front of a group of talented delegates. It usually generates really good conversations and interactions.

This year, Mobility Field Day will be taking place in Silicon Valley from August 14th to August 16th . The event is organized by a company called Gestalt IT.

Event website: https://techfieldday.com/event/mfd4/

Mobility Field Day

List of Delegates

List of Companies Presenting

Note: we didn’t talk about Cisco on the show since we recorded this episode before we knew that they were going to be presenting.

Our Overall Expectations

  • Talks around Wi-Fi 6 and its implementation
  • Talks around AI
  • Talks around ways to ease the monitoring and configuration of Wi-Fi networks
  • Hear about new products and solutions

Expectations from Aruba (HPE)

  • Presentation of their Wi-Fi 6 APs
  • Talks around the cloud-based solution
    • They released a new version of Aruba Central recently
    • It would be nice to hear more about it
  • Maybe talks around security
    • Clearpass to secure IOT
    • Clearpass to provide more visibility

Expectations from Cisco

Expectations from Fortinet

  • Don’t really know what to expect from Fortinet.
  • Maybe they will come with something new?
  • Will we be talking about Single Channel Architecture? Is it the end of it?
  • Will they be announcing new Wi-Fi 6 FortiAPs?

Expectations from Metageek

Expectations from Mist

  • We are pretty much sure they will be presenting their new Wi-Fi 6 APs
  • Curious to know about where they AI stand today (going to Bob’s interview on the show)
  • Would like to learn more about their growth (outside of the US)
  • Would like to see how the merge can empower them

Secret Company?

  • Seriously no idea who that can be…
  • Ideas
    • Other vendor: Ubiquiti? Everest Networks? 
    • Software company?

Let us know what are your expectations for the event in the comments.

Don’t forget to tune in and watch the event live at https://techfieldday.com/event/mfd4/.

CTS 179: 20 Years of Wi-Fi with Bob Friday

Did you know Wi-Fi turns 20 years old this year? It’s quite amazing that we’ve come to rely on Wi-Fi daily. From connecting to the Internet from our homes, watching 4k streaming videos, doing some of our important work, and connecting with family across the world.

Bob Friday, CTO and Founder of Mist, joins the show to talk about Wi-Fi over the past 20 years. Bob has been in this industry for a long time. He’s a veteran Wi-Fi innovator, who has built solutions that you probably use every day. He also holds 15 patents!

My early networking career I remember working on Cisco controllers. Bob Friday started a company called Airespace to help manage enterprise access points. Cisco ended up acquiring Airespace where he became VP/CTO of Cisco Enterprise Mobility.

In 2014, Bob left Cisco to start Mist. His way of creating a big change in how we do Wi-Fi today. Mist was later acquired by Juniper Networks.

Listen to this episode as we discuss Bob’s journey from where he began and how he got to where he is now. Some of the things we discuss:

  • What would help drive further adoption of 802.11k/v/r
  • What part of the past has impacted Wi-Fi today
  • What excites him about Wi-Fi today
  • How does AI impact Wi-Fi
  • What can be done better at the IEEE or Wi-Fi alliance
  • What will Wi-Fi look like in 5, 10, and 20 years from now?

CTS 178: 7 Wi-Fi Best Practices & Guidelines

These are our Wi-Fi best practices and guidelines based on our previous experiences.

So if you want to find learn how we are able to successfully deploy Wi-Fi networks with every one of our clients, then you’re in the right place.

Keep reading…

Why do we not have one industry set of Wi-Fi best practices and/or guidelines?

  • Is it because every environment is different
  • There are differing configurations
  • Every vendor is different
  • Anyone can easily deploy Wi-Fi

Can we look to the Wi-Fi Alliance or Wireless Broadband Alliance to help create these best practices?

By the way, the WBA has a document on wireless deployment best practices and a Wi-Fi 6 Deployment Guideline. It’s what prompted this episode.

It becomes a question of who’s best practices? Who’s deployment or configuration guidelines.

There’s still a lot of proprietary configurations as well. 

  • Cisco RRM
  • Aruba ARM
  • High availability and redundancy

The IEEE Standards leave a lot of room for interpretation. But is there a middle ground that we can come to? Possibly.

7 Wi-Fi Best Practices & Guidelines

1. Create a Design Based on Requirements
2. Have an Optimal Channel Plan
3. Have an Optimal Transmit Power Plan
4. Understand Device Capabilities
5. Validate Your Deployment
6. Understand How Wi-Fi 6 Works
7. Configuring Wi-Fi 6 Backwards Compatibility

We both (Rowell & François) have our set of best practices/guidelines to follow. This is based on our experience.

Why do we need best practices or guidelines?

We’re continuing to see the amount of growth in traffic. Cisco VNI predicts “Nearly three-fifths of traffic (59%) will be offloaded from cellular networks (on to Wi-Fi) by 2022.” And “Nearly four-fifths (79 percent) of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2022.”

Then there’s the future technologies such as VR or AR and the increasing amount of IoT devices.

Across the board we’re seeing high density, higher capacity, and applications requiring lower latency. Our goal, as Wi-Fi professionals is to make the user experience better.

These best practices, guidelines, and recommendations become an important point as Wi-Fi discussion takes place against 5G.

1. Create a Design Based on Requirements

The first thing, prior to doing any deployment, is to gather requirements. This can be business, technical, and constraints.

Determining the use case of the Wi-Fi network will help with the design process. Along with understanding what types of devices used and their application usage.

Constraints could be something like conforming to aesthetics.

2. Have an Optimal Channel Plan

In the design process, a channel plan can be created. While most environments probably use something like RRM, a channel plan can provide optimal channel reuse.

Channel reuse is a goal for high density deployments which result in optimized Wi-Fi networks. The design can answer what channel width will be best for the channel reuse.

We rarely see 80 MHz or 160 MHz today due to no channel reuse available. This makes Wi-Fi networks inefficient in high density and high capacity environments.

Once 6 GHz becomes available, 80 MHz and 160 MHz channel widths will be very possible with throughput increases. But consider many devices do not support 80 MHz or 160 MHz channel widths.

Cisco Live Photos by Rowell Dionicio. https://rowelldionicio.com/clusphotos

3. Have an Optimal Transmit Power Plan

Too many environments fail to modify the default settings. Some Wi-Fi systems set a wide transmit power range.

When transmit power is not considered in the design and configured too high, there tends to be sticky client issues. This can also create co-channel contention.

Additionally, you do not want to exceed your regulatory domain.

When using dynamic transmit power, set the minimum and maximum range which corresponds with your design and requirements.

4. Understand Device Capabilities

The reason for designing a Wi-Fi network with best practices or guidelines is to have a good user experience.

In order to have good end user experience, the devices and device capabilities should be sought after.

Support for 802.11k/v/r can improve Wi-Fi network efficiency and performance. But many devices today still do not support these amendments.

BYOD can prove to be challenging with unknown device types associating to Wi-Fi. Fortunately, there are many network management systems that provide insight into what majority types of devices are using Wi-Fi.

5. Validate Your Deployment

After any design and deployment it is critical to validate the installation. Ensure access points were installed properly and antennas accurately aligned.

Be aware of any access points within a few feet of each other to avoid adjacent channel interference. Access points placed too close to each other may receive interference from each other. The adjacent interference can be detrimental.

Avoid hallway-only installations if you’re using RRM. Transmit power can be reduced due to each access point hearing a neighbor access point too loudly.

In a post-deployment survey, identify any large deviations from the design and identify which areas can be improved.

Cisco Live Photos by Rowell Dionicio. https://rowelldionicio.com/clusphotos

6. Understand How Wi-Fi 6 Works

Wi-Fi 6 cannot avoid the discussion of best practices although it is not widely used. True, access points are being sold by major vendors but learn how Wi-Fi 6 works.

It is too early to tell what the best practices will be. Vendors will implement key features differently, such as resource units.

Wi-Fi design tools will need to be updated to include the effects of BSS color to Co-Channel Interference (CCI).

In the real world, we will need to validate the theory of throughput increases and efficiencies due to features such as OFDMA.

The configuration of Target Wake Time (TWT) will be important for IoT on Wi-Fi networks. This will allow for more air time efficiency.

With today’s marketing for Wi-Fi 6 we must consider coexistence with previous Wi-Fi protocols…

7. Configuring Wi-Fi 6 Backwards Compatibility

We will be in a long transition period as many migrate to Wi-Fi 6. The Wi-Fi 6 install base will undoubtly grow. There are considerations to be made for backwards compatibility or the coexistence of Wi-Fi 6 and previous Wi-Fi protocols.

The goal of Wi-Fi 6 is efficiency. With Wi-Fi 6 devices and access points transmitting with the latest protocol, OFDMA can have a huge impact by utilizing a single transmit opportunity to communicate with multiple Wi-Fi 6 devices.

Transmit opportunity with Wi-Fi 6 allows more air time for Wi-Fi 5 devices and older.

Additionally, newer access points will have better hardware capabilities. Surely, we’ll see marginal performance improvements for all Wi-Fi devices.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance is recommending the use of 20 MHz or 40 MHz wide channels when coexisting with Wi-Fi 5 or older devices. Also, with the disabling of MU-MIMO due to the lack of legacy device supporting the feature. It helps to eliminate the overhead of sounding frames.

Conclusion

Which of our Wi-Fi best practices and guidelines will you implement first?

This is not a definitive list. We developed this list based on our previous experience with Wi-Fi deployments.

Links & Resources

WLA WLPC Update: Update from WLA | Peter Mackenzie | WLPC Phoenix 2019

WBA Wi-Fi 6 Deployment Guidelines & Scenarios

WBA Wi-Fi Deployment Guidelines

CTS 177: Wi-Fi 6 with Fred Niehaus

This episode was recorded at the Podcast Domain for Cisco Live 2019 in San Diego. In attendance is Rowell Dionicio, François Vergès, Gurpreet Singh, and Fred Niehaus.

Fred has been with Cisco since 2000. Since 1993 Fred has been doing wireless. Gurpreet works for a VAR in Canada with all aspects of warehouses.

Cisco Live Photos by Rowell Dionicio. https://rowelldionicio.com/clusphotos

Wi-Fi 5 was all about very high throughput but had nothing to do with latency. Cellular buys frequencies for millions and millions of dollars and uses the spectrum efficiently.

Two main features of Wi-Fi 6 are:

  • OFDMA, borrowed from cellular, cuts latency down
  • BSS Coloring which allows for channel reuse

Fred says we’re ahead of 5G. What’s in 5G is available in Wi-Fi today

At the top of Fred’s Wi-Fi 6 list are OFDMA and BSS coloring. TWT for scheduling will be very beneficial to IoT devices.

OFDM vs OFDMA

  • Channel that’s 20 MHz size
  • If data is one little chunk it wastes the subcarriers
  • OFDMA takes multiple transmitters/receivers on each subcarrier for efficiency

The new Wi-Fi 6 access points from Cisco are:

  • C9117
  • C9115
  • C9120  

One thing to note, with the C9117 as an example, is that chipsets that were early to market did not support OFDMA in the uplink. Cisco went to Marvell and Cisco has asked for a custom chipset.

But to meet meet customers’ needs you can build your own chipset or look to another manufacturer.

Why would Cisco change the name to Catalyst? That’s because it is the best product line. Access points are redesigned to be smaller. 

Comparing Wi-Fi 6 to previous generation

  • 9115 and 9117 those are like 1850 and 1830 series. Early to market and standards-based.
  • 9120 is more like the 2800 series. Has the RF ASIC, a custom ASIC that is software defined. 

The RF ASIC can specifically create a signature for DFS signals. Potentially eliminated false positives with DFS hits. The benefit of the RF ASIC allows the other radios to service clients while using this 3rd radio. Unlike previous ASICs, the 9120 has the capability to transmit but it’s not configured to at the moment.

When do you think we will see the actual benefits of Wi-Fi 6? Let us know in the comments below.