Rowell and François were invited to Cisco Headquarters, along with many others, as part of the #JustTheTech event which was planned in coordination with the Wi-Fi 6 announcement that happened on April 29, 2019.

It was a jam packed day of discussions with key people from Cisco.

The folks in attendance for #JustTheTech were:

We kicked off the event with a tour of the Customer Experience Center. Taking a look at the possibilities using Cisco solutions. It’s an impressive facility on the first floor of one of many Cisco buildings. There’s an entry way with a large Cisco logo on the wall. On the other side of the wall is the beginning of the Customer Experience Center.

During our tour we ran into Todd Nightingale who is an SVP, General Manager of Meraki. It was a delightful surprise but he was able to talk to us for a bit and even tour with us.

So the main purpose of #JustTheTech was to take part in the coordinated announcement of Wi-Fi 6 products from both Cisco and Meraki. But instead of marketing material, we were able to speak directly to engineers.

This means taking a look at the new Wi-Fi 6 access points up close

  • Catalyst 9115, 9117, 9120
  • Meraki MX55, MX45

The actual event started off with Sacha Gupta, Senior Vice President, Product Management – Cisco Enterprise Networking. He talked about Reinventing Access, Unplugged and Uninterrupted.

Reinventing Access, Unplugged and Uninterrupted by Sacha Gupta

Next, Jérôme Henry, Principle Engineer, Office of the CTAO, talked about OpenRoaming which is an interesting concept in today’s world where 5G and Wi-Fi 6 will converge. Cisco has developed partnerships with the biggest device manufacturers showing they really want to make these products work on our networks.

Understanding OpenRoaming and the Device Ecosystem Project by Jérôme Henry

Next, Fred Niehaus and Jeevan Patil begin their combined talk about Wi-Fi 6. This is where we really get interested as everyone was expecting new Wi-Fi 6 hardware.

What Wi-Fi 6 will bring to the market by Fred Niehaus & Jeevan Patil

Of course, Fred goes into the details of the new Catalyst access points. These are the equivalent of the AireOS 1800 and 2800 access points.

Introducing Cisco’s Catalyst Wi-Fi 6 Access Points by Fred Niehaus

Jeevan introduces Meraki’s new Wi-Fi 6 access points. They look radically different from the Cisco Catalyst access points. Something out of a Marvel movie.

Next-Generation Meraki Access Portfolio by Jeevan Patil

And as a bonus, we get to hear about the new Catalyst 9600 chassis switch. The thing is a beast.

Bedrock of the Cloud-scale Campus by Shawn Wargo

Speaking of the Catalyst 9600 Series, there was a Roundtable Discussion.

We also took part in a Wi-Fi 6 Roundtable Discussion with Fred Niehaus and Cristian Raducanu.

One of the highlights of the day was taking a shuttle over to another Cisco building where Wi-Fi 6 access points and devices are tested. This facility is essential as all of the tests for Wi-Fi 6 starts here. Inside the building is a caged off room – it literally has a chain-link fence which requires special badge privileges.

There are tables of laptops with Wi-Fi 6 adapters installed and also many Wi-Fi 6 mobile devices. Currently, being all Samsung as they were the first ones out with Wi-Fi 6. On the ceiling are the Catalyst 9115, 9117, or 9120 access points.

Various tools were used to test Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and roaming. We had a question of 1024 QAM come up and the test engineers stated it was possible to get 1024 QAM at some distance. No access point above your head required.

Closing Thoughts

We were fortunate to be invited to Cisco’s headquarters and take part in this awesome event. It does help that we are both Cisco Champions. With a small group of individuals, it was an intimate setting. The access we had to engineers within Cisco was great and led to great discussions about Wi-Fi 6 including an up-close look at the products.

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About the Author
Rowell, CWNE #210, is a network engineer in Higher-Ed. He enjoys working with wireless networking technologies and loves to share and engage with the community. You can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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