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Wireless Airspace Management from GGR Communications
 

Wireless Airspace Management from GGR Communications

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What is Wireless Airspace Management? The number of users with Wi-Fi-enabled devices now competing for airtime in open / public access venues continues to grow at an exponential rate. Not only is the ...

What is Wireless Airspace Management? The number of users with Wi-Fi-enabled devices now competing for airtime in open / public access venues continues to grow at an exponential rate. Not only is the user base growing, but so is the number of devices as more people make use of Smartphones for some tasks, while using a laptop or tablet for others. In addition we see not only an increased use of wireless… This presentation goes into more detail regarding Wireless Airspace Management from GGR Communications.

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    Wireless Airspace Management from GGR Communications Wireless Airspace Management from GGR Communications Document Transcript

    •   Wireless Airspace Management Solution Overview 2011   COPYRIGHT ©2011 GGR Communications Limited. The information in this document is to be treated as Private and Confidential and may not be copied, used or otherwise disclosed, in whole or part, without the prior written authority of GGR Communications Limited  
    •     Prepared By     GGR Communications, De Salis House, De Salis Court, Hampton Lovett Industrial Estate, Droitwich, Worcestershire, WR9 0QE Author Paul Basford and Adrian Clinton-Watkins Approved Adrian Clinton-Watkins Version 1.0 Date November 2011 27/06/2011   Private and Confidential 2
    •         CONTENTS 1.0 About GGR Communications ................................................................................................................................... 4 1.1 Introduction to GGR Communications ............................................................................................................. 4 1.1.1 Engineering Services .......................................................................................................................................... 4 1.1.2 Managed Network Services ............................................................................................................................. 5 2.0 Wireless Airspace Management................................................................................................................................ 6 2.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................................. 6 2.2 Wireless Airspace Management ........................................................................................................................... 6 2.3 Wireless LAN Controller ..................................................................................................................................... 7 2.3.1 Management and Monitoring ........................................................................................................................... 7 2.3.2 Software Upgrades and Add / Moves / Changes ......................................................................................... 7 2.3.3 Wireless Guest Access ..................................................................................................................................... 7 2.3.4 RF Provisioning and Planning ........................................................................................................................... 8 2.3.5 Voice / Real Time Traffic .................................................................................................................................. 8 2.3.6 Load Balancing / Efficient Usage ...................................................................................................................... 8 2.3.7 Fast Secure Roaming ......................................................................................................................................... 8 2.3.8 Continuous Wireless Coverage...................................................................................................................... 8 2.3.9 Rogue AP / Network Detection and Mitigation .......................................................................................... 8     27/06/2011   Private and Confidential 3
    •         1.0 ABOUT GGR COMMUNICATIONS 1.1 Introduction to GGR Communications   GGR Communications Ltd was founded in 1994 as a specialist Networking Company which has grown from an extensive knowledge base in Legacy Wide Area Networks to the current day where we now encompass solutions which include the latest technologies for LAN, both fixed and wireless, IP telephony and routed WAN technologies. GGR throughout its development has been an engineering-based company and has built its reputation on sound technical solutions for customers’ business requirements by engineers who are well-versed and qualified in the design, installation, configuration, testing and commissioning of data networks and IP voice systems, including WEB based technologies, security appliances and software, remote access systems over VPN, VOIP and MPLS technology. GGR offer extensive in-service support services including on-site hardware maintenance, remote monitoring and fault diagnostic assistance. Through established partner companies, GGR can offer private circuit provision and fibre optic and structured cabling. As a certified networking solution provider GGR are in a favourable position to be able to offer a complete service from the selection of the network equipment in the network design through to installation, maintenance and after sales support services including completely managed solutions. GGR specialises in advanced network solutions and has industry accreditations from Cisco both as a Premier Partner and with specialisations in advanced unified communications (VOIP), wireless and security solutions in addition to foundation certifications in all aspects of routing and switching technologies. Underpinning GGR’s attention to provision of quality solutions and services and their continuing improvement is our BSI ISO9001:2004 quality accreditation. Through GGRs wholly owned subsidiary Cornet Switching Systems, we supply specialist data communications equipment directly and indirectly to Prime contractors for UK MoD and NATO. These are large projects that involved equipment design, installation and support for major UK defence communications centres. These projects require the highest levels of project management and project control especially when involved with special development projects. 1.1.1 Engineering Services   Network Design GGR design engineers are experienced in evaluating all aspects of a network design and by building a close working relationship with customers, seek to fully understand the business drivers behind the required solution and not just the technical issues. Customer requirements often include, but are not limited to, reliability, resilience and security, both within a site and over wide-area connections. Integration with existing network applications ensures an optimum solution, taking into account future expansion and potential new services. Product Provision 27/06/2011   Private and Confidential 4
    •         GGR are able to provide a wide range of hardware and software networking products chosen predominantly from the Cisco Systems portfolio. These products are easily scalable to meet differing customer site size requirements whilst maintaining a common operating system. For example Cisco Integrated Service Routers allow multiple functions to be provided on a single platform, where the scale of the site requirement could not justify separate functions being provided by individual functional platforms as would be provisioned for larger installations. The management of both scales of installation would be common and the functionality uniform. Line Provisioning GGR are in a position to offer bandwidth from partner network circuit providers to ensure a complete and timely network installation and to offer a single support contact for all network issues. These may include DSL technologies for internet access and low-level MPLS access through to GIG-E fibre solutions for very high throughput WAN solutions. Installation & Commissioning GGR network engineers have the range of skills necessary to ensure all aspects of the installation from the physical installation of the equipment through to final system tests which are carried out in accordance with best practices and to the complete satisfaction of the customer. For larger projects a senior engineer will be appointed as project manager. This engineer will then be responsible for ensuring all site activity and customer liaison is effectively managed. Training Where customers require, complete training on the in-service operation of equipment can be provided by GGR either at the customer site or for more in-depth training, at our training facilities in Droitwich. After Sales Support & Maintenance GGR offer a range of after-sales support and maintenance packages. These span from telephone support services, through to various on-site hardware maintenance packages with remote diagnostic support up to the full 24 hour/365 day contract service. GGR can provide engineering consultancy services to assist customers with projects not associated with supplied equipment. GGR are strong on their support and customer surveys tell us that our support is a key differentiator. 2.1.2 Managed Network Services Configuration Management GGR can provide a complete managed service which includes active monitoring of our customers’ equipment remotely from our engineering service facility in Droitwich. This monitoring can include bandwidth monitoring to allow network performance to be assessed under normal operation and to provide information on potential consequences during the addition of new applications to the network. Whole Network Management For those customers who wish to divest all network management away from their operations, GGR can provide a total service from our own network support desk facilities to take the network management overhead and burden away from the customer. Increasingly GGR act as outsourced Networking department for our customers, providing the whole management, provisioning and support of all network services. 27/06/2011   Private and Confidential 5
    •         2.0 WIRELESS AIRSPACE MANAGEMENT 2.1 Introduction   The number of users with Wi-Fi-enabled devices now competing for airtime in open / public access venues continues to grow at an exponential rate. Not only is the user base growing, but so is the number of devices as more people make use of Smartphones for some tasks, while using a laptop or tablet for others. In addition we see not only an increased use of wireless from the business users themselves, but also the same explosion of use by third parties on or around a site. The third parties use may be known to the venue / business but often it is an unknown and variable factor. On enterprise wireless LANs, airtime is a scarce resource that is easily squandered either by careless planning or inadequate tools for detecting, isolating, and avoiding rogues, or adjacent 802.11 networks. Therefore in an uncontrolled environment all users of Wi-Fi end up with a problem during use. These may be lost bandwidth or increased latency at best, or complete failure of connection at worse. Ignorance about the growing number of non-802.11 interference sources which also occupy the unlicensed spectrum is another contributing factor. For these reasons, airtime and air quality must be carefully managed, in order to maximize signal strength and maintain optimal transmission rates. Without an adequate signal, there is no wireless service. Too strong a signal from one Access Point causes cochannel and adjacent channel interference with other Access Points, while too weak a signal causes coverage holes and dropped sessions. Further, a variety of potential interference sources can degrade signal quality so much that a wireless footprint that appears to have no coverage gaps may actually behave more like one that does. Either way, suboptimal RF performance ultimately wastes capacity and in extreme cases results in user frustration and complaints that the network is unreliable. This document will look at the option of using Cisco Wireless LAN Controllers that allow a deployment of Cisco Wireless Access Points to work together as one unified wireless network. This allows the system to respond to events and issues, but also gives a full toolkit of airspace management including being able to identify, isolate or mitigate third party wireless networks and other sources of interference. 2.2 Wireless Airspace Management An issue that has been experienced firsthand by GGR in recent years, is the rapid growth of Wi-Fi networks that are used by other 3rd parties around public / hospitality venues. Wi-Fi networks can only operate over quite a small range of radio frequencies (2.4GHz band) and as multiple parties each may use different frequencies, these can quickly run out and start to cause interference with each other. Whilst there are two bands for Wireless (2.4GHz and 5GHz) the higher less used band is also not supported on many laptops outside of the UK and so therefore for compatibility we are mostly limited to the 2.4GHz range. The difficulty this situation causes with planning is that most of these ad-hoc Wi-Fi networks are only present around venues for small periods and even then are unlikely to be running their equipment until it is needed on a particular day. This makes prior planning and wireless surveying difficult and a deployment of standalone Access Points in the network does not allow for control of the wireless airspace. 27/06/2011   Private and Confidential 6
    •         The main resolution to this for wireless users across a site is that the business itself considers controlling the wireless airspace, providing a single unified wireless network for all users / third parties to use. However such a move may be difficult and expensive to implement. We therefore have to assume we are working in an environment where there are multiple wireless networks operating on a site – some of which may be known third parties and others that will be unknown. To resolve this issue GGR would recommend the deployment of a Cisco Wireless LAN Controller (WLC) on the network and the migration of all Cisco Wireless Access Points to operate in ‘Lightweight Mode’. The Cisco WLC allows total management of the wireless network as a whole. It offers a number of advanced features including centralised management / control of the whole wireless infrastructure and allows full real-time detection of Wi-Fi sources that are coming from non-business infrastructure (known as Rogue Access Points). These Rogue Access Points can then be classified and any interference mitigated if required. This means we can use the wireless network to identify other users and if necessary to mitigate or even shut down their connections. The centralised management of the Cisco WLC also allows Wi-Fi network changes to be implemented very rapidly across the whole enterprise, from changing a Wi-Fi network key / password, to setting up a new network name for use by visitors, guests or sponsors. In addition it allows us to tune the whole wireless network in seconds to respond to other wireless users on the day as well as identifying their position and if necessary shutting down their network. 2.3 Wireless LAN Controller The benefits of deploying a Wireless LAN controller with lightweight Access Points over the use of legacy autonomous mode Access Points are as follows: 2.3.1 Management and Monitoring Wireless LAN Controller provides a central point of management and control for the whole of the Wireless network. In addition the entire infrastructure can be monitored from the controller. The controller can manage configuration changes across the whole estate such as addition of new networks. In addition configuration can be effected in a combined and co-ordinated way manually and automatically, so for example the output power can be optimised to give the best coverage and the least interference. 2.3.2 Software Upgrades and Add / Moves / Changes Any additional Access Points can be added to the system (subject to licensing) by simply plugging them into an appropriately configured switch port. The AP will then be automatically provisioned from the Wireless LAN controller. The provisioning includes airspace management as well as software version control across the wireless estate. 2.3.3 Wireless Guest Access The Wireless LAN controller can provide a simplified version of Web authentication for use on a guest network. Guest login accounts can be created and stored locally on the controller and a customisable login portal can be presented to users requiring authentication before Internet access is granted. This isolates guest traffic from corporate / business network resources while allowing the infrastructure to be leveraged in offering a service to visiting parties requiring Internet access. 27/06/2011   Private and Confidential 7
    •         2.3.4 RF Provisioning and Planning The wireless LAN controller allows you to obtain the best use of the limited wireless airspace. This means it will dynamically managed channel use throughout the Access Points to enable the best coverage and the least interference. It can change this dynamically if necessary to respond to changing events such as an Access point failure or the operation of another wireless network within the airspace. 2.3.5 Voice / Real Time Traffic Wireless LAN controller allows a simpler approach for the implementation for Wireless QoS and roaming for real time applications using the wireless network. This means we can allocate bandwidth and latency guarantees to wireless devices. This is essential for the successful implementation of wireless Voice over IP. It can also be particularly useful for other real time wireless use such as tracking handsets and ticket scanning. 2.3.6 Load Balancing / Efficient Usage In an autonomous mode network without a controller the associated Access Point is decided only by the client adapter and so therefore this often leads to poor balancing of clients amongst devices and also across the wireless spectrum. The Wireless LAN controller sits above all Access Points and controls the whole estate. This means it can redirect clients to another Access Point in order to balance the load between Access Points. 2.3.7 Fast Secure Roaming Although roaming on Cisco Autonomous mode Access Points is supported and works well, the addition of a controller gives enhanced roaming capability. This is because where there is security such as certificate based EAP, when a client moves between Access Points the authentication has to re-occur. In a controller environment this occurs at controller level and so fast roaming can be carried out between Access Points without the need for reauthentication and so therefore is handled completely seamlessly. This is also an important feature for real time data such as voice and ticket scanning in a roaming mobile environment. 2.3.8 Continuous Wireless Coverage One of the key functions of the wireless LAN controller is to use the Access Points not only as transmitter and receivers but also as network probes. This allows the controller to manage the airspace and to dynamically respond to changes in the airspace usage. This means it can automatically increase or decrease different Access Point powers to ensure the best coverage. In addition it will handle channel management dynamically as well as make changes to the wireless in response to device changes, coverage changes such as changing geography or other interference. 2.3.9 Rogue AP / Network Detection and Mitigation Since the wireless LAN controller uses the Access Point radios both for transmitting and receiving as well as network probes, it allows the controller to be able to manage rogue Access Points. 27/06/2011   Private and Confidential 8
    •         The controller is able to identify and pinpoint other wireless networks and can then automatically or on instruction take action against these networks. This includes acting to prevent clients from using a network by sending disassociate packets for that wireless network. This means other users can be identified and controlled, or by using other features the network can respond and heal the airspace to take into account the third parties networks.   27/06/2011   Private and Confidential 9