Cisco expands wireless reach with access points, management software

Cisco targets SMB arena with new Aironet APs, Mobility Express software.

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Perhaps nowhere is the challenge of keeping up with the onslaught of wireless devices greater than in the small-to-midsized companies with little or no IT expertise to handle it.

That’s the target for Cisco’s latest line of 802.11ac Wave 2-based wireless products which include scalable Aironet wireless access points and a new version of Cisco’s Mobility Express software to manage the whole environment.

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The need for faster, more easily managed wireless networks is obvious: Cisco said in its in Cisco’s 11th annual Visual Networking Index last year that traffic from wireless and mobile devices will account for two-thirds of total IP traffic by 2020. By 2020, wired devices will account for 34% of IP traffic, while Wi-Fi and mobile devices will account for 66% of IP traffic. In 2015, wired devices accounted for most IP traffic at 52%. Cisco says that by 2020 there will be 26.3 billion networked devices averaging a speed of 24Mbps. Not only will there be more devices, but mobile business applications in the workplace, generating more traffic.

An updated version of Mobility Express in fact may be the key to the current announcement as it includes support for the “fast lane” technology Cisco and Apple have been developing since the companies announced a technology development partnership in 2015.

In this case, Cisco said that customers can pick the Apple iOS apps they want to receive prioritized network bandwidth, which is especially important for apps that use real-time services such as video and voice.

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In addition, Mobility Express basically includes all the embedded intelligence needed to run and manage SMB wireless environments, Cisco said. The package now supports up to 100 access points – the previous version was limited to 25 --and can be configured in less than10 minutes, Cisco says. Mobility Express supports the 802.11ac Wave 2 standards and other features previously available only in high performance, standalone WLAN Controllers. A small and midsize enterprise will now be able to offer the same high-speed, feature-laden network that larger organizations use, according to Bill Rubino, Cisco Enterprise Mobility Solutions marketing manager.  

In addition, the new version Mobility Express:

  • Runs WLAN controller function on an access point supporting up to 2,000 clients.
  • Offers Plug-and-Play for zero touch deployment.
  • Lets customers understand exactly what is running on their network.
  • Supports and manages guests via Wi-Fi Onboarding with Presence Analytics. With this application customers can see and analyze network guest activity.

On the hardware side, Cisco is offering up Aironet 1815 Series Access Point family for indoor networking; the Aironet 1540 Access Point for outdoor; and a new WLAN controller, the Cisco 3504.

aironet 1815i family 600x400 Cisco

The Aironet 1815 802.11ac Wave 2-based devices come in four configurations, the 1815i is the overall ideal solution for any small-to-midsized business; 1815t is targeted for teleworks and micro-branch deployments; The 1815w is targeted at hospitality, residential halls or other multi-dwelling units and the 1815m has more transmit power for budget-conscious organizations that need a wide coverage zone.

The 1815 family fills out Cisco’s Aironet portfolio as it offers the 2800 and 3800 for larger enterprise wireless deployments.

For wireless outdoor networks, a market growing 15% to 20% quarter over quarter, Cisco says, the company rolled out the Aironet 1540 Access Point he 1540 AP supports the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard and comes equipped with Cisco enterprise features. The 1540s can transmit data up to twice as fast as Cisco’s previous outdoor access point and can perform double duty as virtual WLAN controllers, the company says.

“Customers can run wireless networks without buying separate controller and it includes the enterprise-class Cisco RF management capabilities—like security scanning, interference avoidance and application visibility,” Rubino said.

cisco 3504 Cisco

At the top end of this announcement is the Cisco 3504 WLAN Access Controller. The access point scales to 150 access points and supports 3,000 clients. It too supports Apple fast lane technology, BYOD services, Trustsec and Open DNS features for managing larger wireless environments.

The wireless update will bolster the company’s wireless stance versus HPE Aruba, Ruckus (now with Brocade); Extreme, Aerohive, Juniper and others.

All products are available in April apart from the 3504 which is available in the June timeframe. Pricing for the 3504 has not been set. Pricing for the other devices goes like this: Aironet 1540 Outdoor AP: $995; Aironet 1815 Indoor Series AP: 1815i (Infrastructure) AP: $495; 1815t (teleworker) AP: $595; 1815w (wallplate) AP: $495; 1815m (higher coverage) AP: $595.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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