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If classrooms full of laptop computers plus roving mobile devices have you worried about the quality of wireless service and network security, then you’ll find important information about new wireless …

If classrooms full of laptop computers plus roving mobile devices have you worried about the quality of wireless service and network security, then you’ll find important information about new wireless technology in this presentation.

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  • Good afternoon. Welcome to the Black Box Webinar, Smart Wireless for Education On The Move. My name is Keith Ross. I'm the Networking Product Manager with Black Box Corporation. Black Box is a leading technology solutions provider. We help customers build, manage, optimize, and secure their networks. Black Box serves 175K customers in 141 countries throughout the world. Before we get started a few housekeeping items. Participants are on mute, but you can send me questions – just type them in the Q&A text box. The webex is being recorded so you can watch it later.
  • Here's what we'll be covering in today's webinar: ” Wireless network challenges in today’s educational environment” ” New technologies to meet today’s Wireless demands.” Here we’ll highlight some of the key features of the 802.11n wireless standard that make it a good choice for educational environments that incorporate the latest in mobile technology. Then we'll take a look at the new Black Box SmartPath wireless system.
  • There ’s been an explosion of new handheld wireless products in recent years. First there was the Blackberry, then the iphone, now you have Droids and tablets. This wireless revolution has generated some new challenges to local area network administrators managing wifi networks. A big challenge that I ’m sure you have all seen is the sheer number of wireless devices attaching to your network. As the chart on the right from IDC shows, smartphone, tablets, and laptops – the lower three segments in the chart (green, red, silver) will double from about 500 million devices in 2010 to about a billion devices next year, 2013. Along with these new devices comes an increase wireless traffic and bandwidth to web sites, social networking sites, video downloads, and mobile transactions. Today's schools must deal with network security issues. Whom do you allow on your network? Which internal LAN resources do you let them access? How much bandwidth to you give them? How do you manage access for these new devices in an efficient manner? Think about this – the number of devices hitting your wireless network is doubling or tripling, but chances are your IT staff size is not. So with limited IT resources, you need to seek out solutions that are straightforward to deploy and easy to manage.
  • What is BYOD? It's ”bring your own device”, and it's what's happening today. Not only are schools incorporating wireless devices such as iPads and laptop computers into their curriculum, but both instructors and students are bringing their personal ipads, smartphones and Kindles to school with some carrying more than one device. We’re seeing IT organizations that never allowed personal devices on the LAN are reconsidering. Today's students grew up with wireless: it is an accepted part of their life. We ’re finding that the Wi-Fi infrastructure has to compensate for consumer grade wireless devices. In other words, a wireless signal that’s adequate for a laptop may not be sufficient for a smartphone. In order to get better battery life and still be lightweight, consumer devices may have lower power, lower-quality radios. The result is that your access points must have higher output power and better receive sensitivity. No question about it—BYOD devices create security issues – they ’re outside of your IT staff's control. With thousands of apps out there, there's really no way to tell exactly what's on any given device, and no way to tell if it's safe from malware. Do you grant a teacher ’s personal iPad the same level of authorization as his school laptop? – probably not. How do you differentiate among client devices that a trusted user brings on to the network?
  • Web sites and applications are using ever-increasing amounts of bandwidth as they incorporate more graphics, sound, and video. Young people are notoriously high consumers of bandwidth – think youtube! Even if you have good RF coverage, your network slows down if there are too many users hitting an access point. So when planning your next wifi system you need to consider not just RF coverage – or where the signals are going, you need to think about capacity planning – the peak and average amount of traffic hitting the network. Talk to teachers within your organization and document all the potential users and guests. Next, make a complete list of the application types that your network will need to support. Start with mission-critical applications. Identify apps with heavy data requirements or special quality of service levels. Demanding applications such as voice and video will require a higher density of access points. Voice traffic is sensitive to loss, delay, and jitter – so if there are too many users on an access point, it will lead to clipped conversations or dropped calls. Other applications such as video, network backup, and file transfers can also have an impact on the network, too. So, take into account any bandwidth-intensive applications if you expect your mobile workforce to be accessing the wireless LAN while these applications are running. Considering these issues will result in a more informed—and therefore more successful—deployment plan.
  • Let ’s talk about new wireless technologies that can help you tackle special challenges faced by educational institutions today. The most important development in wireless technology is the IEEE 802.11n standard. This new wireless standard is several times faster than the previous 802.11g standard. Cooperative control is a technology in which intelligent, distributed access points improve performance, reliability, and reduce total cost of ownership. Network security has been improved, too, enabling you to actively set security parameters by user or device. These and other new technologies make it possible to build a wireless network that's fast, smart, and secure enough to support the BYOD revolution.
  • 802.11n touts major improvements in both performance and reliability, yet also has backward compatibility with 802.11a and 802.11b/g equipment. 802.11n realizes higher performance and increased reliability through the action of two key technologies: • Multiple In/Multiple Out or MIMO transmit/receive capabilities • Channel Bonding. MIMO transmits multiple data streams simultaneously, so it increases wireless capacity while also increasing network reliability and coverage. With MIMO you can deploy a technique called spatial multiplexing that sends and receives data streams across multiple antennas simultaneously. MIMO compares multi-path signals to select the best one. Because it has multiple signals to choose from, MIMO achieves higher speeds at greater ranges than older wireless hardware. This really helps to address lower power BYOD devices. Channel bonding is a technique where two adjacent contiguous 20MHz channels are combined into a wider 40MHz channel, resulting in top data rates of 300Mbps and higher. The drawback to channel bonding is that it can really only be implemented in the 5 GHz band. 802.11n operates in two frequency bands, 2.4 and 5 GHz. The use of dual band access points can effectively double the capacity of your system handling clients on both bands simultaneously. Several other factors determine the maximum performance that can be attained with 802.11n including guard interval, frame aggregation, and inter-frame spacing. A guard interval is a set amount of time between transmissions, designed to ensure that distinct transmissions do not interfere with one another. The purpose of the guard interval is to introduce immunity to propagation delays, echoes and reflections. The shorter the guard interval, the more efficiency there is in the channel usage but a shorter guard interval also increases the risk of interference. Data over wired and wireless networks are sent as a stream of packets known as data frames. Frame aggregation takes these packets and combines them into fewer, larger packets allowing an increase in overall performance. This was added to the 802.11n specification. Reduced inter-frame spacing is a feature that only 802.11n clients can take advantage of since legacy clients will not be able to receive packets with the shorter spacing.
  • Let’s talk about cooperative control archtecture. When wifi was introduced back in the 90s it was typically deployed as autonomous APs—isolated pockets of connectivity—in a conference room, or lobby, or cafeteria. Generally deployed as a convenience, just for surfing the web. You may have a deployment like this at home. Not hard to manage one unit, but definitely hard to manage a campus with dozens or hundreds of units if you have to log into each device separately. Then as the technology moved to faster APs and 802.11g, as Wi-Fi was being used for mission critical applications, users demanded better coverage and seamless roaming. In order to facilitate a unified control plane for managing RF characteristics and user security, vendors moved to a centralized control model. Dedicated appliances called wireless controllers were deployed to supervise RF channels, power and enable seamless roaming. Controllers made management of large networks of APs easier. The problem with controllers is that they create a single point of failure and a bandwidth bottleneck as all AP traffic is hair-pinned back to the controller before going to the final destination. The latest evolution in wireless topology is the intelligent access point, which creates a new architecture called cooperative control. This is a distributed architecture enabled by improvements in silicon density and performance—an example of Moore ’s law in action. Just as we can economically have gigahertz processors in cell phones, we can now put more intelligence in APs, so they can communicate and cooperate between adjacent neighbors and control network RF settings and user security without the need for a centralized controller. Intelligent access points enable you to scale the capacity of your wireless network without bottlenecks, improve network reliability, and reduce overall cost. Even though cooperative control architecture distributes network intelligence across the access points, the entire network can be centrally managed. Management software enables you to use a single pane of glass for configuration, status monitoring, and reporting, but the cool thing is that the data plane and control plane activities take place in the APs in real time.
  • Now a few words about SmartPath from Black Box. Here are a few reasons to consider Smartpath wireless… First it ’s got unbeatable performance - SmartPath ™ enables you to use fast 802.11n wireless as your primary access layer. Smartpath optimizes airtime utilization, reduces contention, and prevents slower/older clients from limiting fast clients. It provides linear scalability - SmartPath enables you to go from very small to very large deployments just by adding access points. It's easy to use and manage - SmartPath features an intuitive GUI management interface. APs can be managed as a cloud-based subscription service or as software that can reside locally on your VMWare server. All aspects of the wireless LAN can be viewed and managed from the interface, including user groups, connected client information, and security policies. It even has a built-in web based Guest Access portal. Most functions are performed by SmartPath automatically, so IT involvement is minimal. It's robust and reliable – SmartPath doesn't use a centralized wireless controller so there are no single points of failure. SmartPath access points provide redundant dynamic forwarding. A better architecture means a lower cost of ownership – SmartPath ’s controller-less architecture reduces capex and enables you to start small and grow incrementally.
  • There are really two major camps when it comes to ensuring mobile devices are accessing the network securely. On one side, there are many schools who are very successful in deploying agent-based Mobile Device Management solutions to ensure connected devices have the right software, permissions, and security settings before allowing them to connect to the network. On the other side of the MDM spectrum is what is called Network-based MDM, where there is no agent to install on the client device, and the network devices are intelligent enough to make classification decisions based on user identity, device type, location, and time. In order to provide a truly comprehensive BYOD, you should support both agent-based MDM as well as network-based MDM. This allows companies to leverage and control consumer devices in the enterprise, while also supporting users who will not accept the inherent risk to their personal data that comes along with installing an agent-based solution. Smartpath supports both MDM agent enrollment as well as Network-based MDM. Smartpath gives you several options to connect users securely. Beyond just the basic open Guest SSID, Smartpath will allow you to authenticate users connected to any type of SSID against a Captive Web Portal which can be tied back to Active Directory (or other directory server). You could even enforce MAC authentication to ensure only certain devices or types of devices connect to the network. An additional option unique to Smartpath is our Private Pre-Shared Key feature. This feature is cool because it allows an administrator to enforce per-user and per-device permissions and security, but doesn’t require any certificate or username/password credentials for the connecting users. An administrator can specify a particular key or group of keys to have defined network permissions, such as assigned VLAN, firewall policy, and tunneling permissions. Smartpath allows only one device to connect with the same PPSK key. This simple solution provides all the per-device encryption and security normally associated with the more complex 802.1X solutions, but works on all devices that support PSK and requires no certificates. Here you see guests with a unique SSID and access to the Internet. The personal Iphone connects via the hotspot SSID and has access to the Internet and to email. The school or corporate ipad has access to confidential school or corporate resources via the corporate SSID.
  • And now I ’d like to take you through a brief example of how Smartpath works. Check out this power point animation! Here you see a Smartpath AP connected to the wired network. This single AP acts as a full-featured enterprise-class access point with robust functionality providing identity-based security and quality of service. - Smartpath EMS is single management interface for AP configuration, OS updates and monitoring. APs are automatically discovered, policies are pushed to the AP and the wifi network is operational. (click again) - When you bring in a second AP, they interact with each other and then you start to see the power of the cooperative control architecture. SmartPath access points work together to implement fast, stateful roaming, cooperative RF control, station load balancing, and seamless resiliency. For example, on your screen you can see the circles around the two access points are of different colors. Those represent the channels the access points are working on. There are channel negotiation protocols that work together to make sure they ’re running on separate channels. The access point that the laptop is connected to has taken the user state and the keys and has shared that with the next access point, so it can implement predictive roaming. - When the user moves, that laptop computer will roam seamlessly to the next access point, because the laptop's state and security have been pre-populated at that access point. We can also implement mesh networking and best path forwarding for extra resiliency and reachability. Mesh networking uses the 802.11n RF channels to backhaul traffic from the APs. Mesh networking protocols dynamically re-route around network infrastructure failures. - For example, on your screen you can see the two access points are connected together with a mesh link. The red X shows that the switch has failed, but the mesh routing protocols will route the traffic around the switch failure and will allow applications to continue uninterrupted even in the event of a LAN infrastructure failure. - The network can be seamlessly scaled by simply adding more access points as you need more coverage. - In this topology, four of the access points are wired directly into the Ethernet network, and the access point on the bottom left is operating as a mesh node. With a more complex topology like this, we now have many more access points, and many of them are running on the same channel. - To eliminate co-channel interference, the cooperative control auto power level adjustment features kick in and power levels are adjusted to provide maximum coverage with minimal co-channel interference, allowing the system to give you the most robust wireless infrastructure possible. -  With a more complete deployment like this, with more nodes and more alternative routes through it, you have even higher levels of resiliency. You can recover from multiple failures in your wired or wireless infrastructure.   As we ’re showing here, we have had two switch failures and a wireless LAN access point failure, and the traffic is still routed around through multi-hop mesh into the network infrastructure, providing unprecedented levels of resiliency. But cooperative control also provides substantial economic advantages because no wireless controller hardware is needed.
  • A quick summary. Mobile devices are driving a need for wireless connectivity. The BYOD trend creates bandwidth demand and security challenges. New technologies such as 802.11n and cooperative control make it possible to meet the new wireless demand. Black Box can help you build and deploy an efficient and secure wireless network.
  • When you're considering your next wireless installation, we hope you'll take a look at our SmartPath Enterprise wireless system. Look for more information at and be sure to take advantage of two promotions that we ’re running right now. The first is a free wireless assessment – we’ll work with you to create an RF coverage map based on your floor plan and capacity needs. The second promo is an access point trade-in program. So if you have an older existing wifi system, we’ll give you trade-in credit towards the purchase of a new Smartpath system. Let me see if there are any questions that I can answer… Thank you for attending our webinar. Good bye.


  • 1. Smart wirelessfor educationon the moveJuly 2012
  • 2. In today’s webinar» Wireless network challenges in education.» New wireless technologies to meet today’s education demands.» SmartPath.» Summary.2
  • 3. Wireless network challenges in education» The personal device revolution.» Bandwidth.» Security.» Limited IT resources.3 Source: IDC 2011
  • 4. Wireless network challenges in educationThe personal device revolution (BYOD).» More mobile devices than ever: laptops, smartphones, tablets, and e-readers strain network resources.» Smartphones and tablets have less powerful radios than laptops.» A mix of personal devices and school- owned devices create IT headaches and security concerns.4
  • 5. Wireless network challenges in educationBandwidth» Students can overwhelm the network with music, video, and apps.» Time-sensitive applications such as streaming video and VoIP require network priority.» Need to support entire classrooms accessing the network from laptop computers.» Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones require higher signal strength.5
  • 6. New wireless technologies to meet today’s education demands» 802.11n wireless standard.» Cooperative control architecture.» Security enhancements.» Solutions for limited IT resources.6
  • 7. New wireless technologies to meet today’s education demands 802.11n802.11n wireless standard wireless» Operates in both the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands standard» Faster speeds — 300 Mbps or higher provides support for applications such as streaming video and VoIP.» Provides better reach and coverage than earlier standards through the use of multiple antennas and multiple wireless signals (MIMO).» Channel bonding increases maximum data rate7
  • 8. New wireless technologies to meet today’s education demands Cooperative control architecture 802.11b/a 802.11g 802.11n 802.11n 1999 2003 2007 wireless 2010 standard Made possible by Moore’s Law Scalability,Resilience &Determinism Cooperative Control • Distributed Intelligence • Auto RF • Secure seamless roaming Autonomous APs • Ease of management •Limited Intelligence Centralized Control • Increased reliability •No RF / network awareness • Centralized Intelligence • Improved performance • Auto RF • Reduced cost •Hard to manage • Secure seamless roaming • Cloud or on-site management • Ease of management software • Single point of failure, BW bottleneck, increased cost 8 Security, Manageability & Mobility
  • 9. SmartPath from Black Box» SmartPath Enterprise Wireless takes advantage of new technologies to provide smart, versatile wireless that works with today’s mobile-device revolution. • 802.11n for fast throughput • Scalable—start small and grow as needed • Easy to use and manage • Reliable with no single points of failure • Reduces CAPEX with cloud-based management9
  • 10. Managing mobile devices with SmartPath10
  • 11. SmartPath — how does it work? Wireless Wired Network Network Policy Reporting Heat SLA Configuration Maps Compliance SmartPath EMS 11 
  • 12. Summary» The wireless revolution is coming to your school whether you like it or not. • More mobile devices such as laptops and e-readers are being used in education • School networks often have to cope with personal devices such as phones • Smartphones and iPad® tablets are challenging for wireless systems • Take advantage of new technologies to provide wireless that keeps up with today’s demands • Wireless that keeps up with today’s demand doesn’t just happen—you need to plan for it12
  • 13. The SmartPath forward» SmartPath Enterprise Wireless is purpose-built for BYOD. • Learn more by visiting • Or call 888-245-6215 for a FREE wireless assessment. • Limited-time access point trade-in program. • Download wireless white paper.13