Wavelink Blog

What you should know about SDN and WiFi

Meru’s Senior VP, worldwide engineering & quality assurance, Ajay Malik, gives his rundown of 3 of the most important things you should know about SDN-enabled Wi-Fi.

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is coming to Wi-Fi to give IT end-to-end control of the unified (wired and wireless) network. SDN will deliver numerous additional benefits, ranging from cost saving to increased productivity. Here are three of the most important things you should know about SDN-enabled Wi-Fi:

1: Key benefits. One of the immediate advantages of SDN is it simplifies networks. Consolidating around a central control structure allows for greater automation. This makes rolling out new services faster. Another benefit of SDN is simpler provisioning over multi-vendor networks.

SDN also improves the dynamics of the network by, for example, allowing the network to adapt to load. The SDN-enabled network responds dynamically to changing policies and traffic loads and the network administrator is freed from manual, time-consuming tasks. The cost savings associated with reducing the “human middleware” is yet another potential benefit of SDN.

While organizations will discover more niche SDN applications that deliver savings, improved productivity and revenue generation opportunities, there are few key features which can only be achieved using SDN Wi-Fi. These include:

  • Network visualization: With the invention of WLAN controllers, network engineers lost visibility across the unified (wired and wireless) network. This impedes troubleshooting, traffic optimization, capacity planning, and other critical functions. SDN Wi-Fi enables network visualization across the unified network.
  • Application SLAs across the unified network: With SDN, IT policies are defined once and then are enforced consistently across both wired and wireless networks. Users have a uniform experience, regardless of their access method.
  • Location services: Since most users access the network wirelessly, SDN-enabled Wi-Fi lets IT make dynamic decisions using the physical location of the user.

2: WLAN controller supports SDN. Early WLAN architectures based on access points and WLAN controllers were already designed to decouple the data and control planes. But as vendors implemented their own forms of WLAN controllers, they became highly proprietary and closed to extensions to address other business needs. With SDN taking center stage for wired networks, it makes an obvious choice for the WLAN controllers and access points.

A WLAN controller claiming support for SDN implies that it must support OpenFlow allowing forwarding of client data packets within OpenFlow flows. Instead of all decisions being made by the WLAN controller, an application/SDN controller can make decisions regarding which packets go where. Such a WLAN controller supports all OpenFlow actions, including “Set IP TOS bits,” “Strip the 802.1q header,” “Set the 802.1q VLAN id,” “Set the 802.1q priority,” “enqueue port queue,” and more based on the ingress IP source address, IP destination address, IP protocol/IP ToS bits, Transport source port/ICMP Type, Transport destination port/ICMP Code, Ethernet source address/destination address, and VLAN id/VLAN priority and the list goes on.

3: Managing unified policy. Since the forwarding plane of every OpenFlow-enabled network device can be managed by a single centralized SDN controller, IT operators can now do traffic shaping and policy control across the whole network. In these cases, the IT operators do not even need to know how that box implements SDN, or even whether the box is wired or wireless. This is achieved through the use of SDN applications that run on the SDN controller. Using OpenFlow, an application can set the QoS parameters for any flow and it does not matter if the devices are wired or wireless.

Meru Networks is a provider of intelligent 802.11ac Wi-Fi solutions, providing uninterrupted user experience for education, healthcare, hospitality and enterprise. Designed to enable seamless roaming with traffic separation for critical applications, the Meru MobileFLEX architecture delivers optimized performance and high capacity in high-density environments.

Webinar: Comparing Leading 802.11ac Solutions


A superior 802.11ac solution that is worth investing in

Meru Networks recently commissioned the independent testing firm, The Tolly Group, to evaluate the performance of the Meru 802.11ac WLAN solutions vs. Aruba Networks and Cisco.
The results were outstanding for Meru Networks, showing the incredible performance from their AP832 against the Aruba AP-225 and the Cisco Aironet 3702i.
A webinar recording has been presented to help breakdown the testing process and show the results obtained in greater detail. You will need to register a few details to view the full recording.

View the Webinar Recording from Meru Networks

NEC and Meru Networks collaborate to enable open-standards based SDN solutions for the enterprise

Media Release

NEC Corporation of America (NEC), a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation and leading provider and integrator of advanced IT, networking and communications solutions, and Meru Networks®, a leader in intelligent Wi-Fi networking, have announced an agreement through which the two companies will work together to create SDN-enabled unified wired and wireless enterprise access networking solutions. The two companies are collaborating on support for OpenFlow™ to enable seamless interoperability between the NEC ProgrammableFlow® Networking Suite and Meru 802.11ac intelligent Wi-Fi solutions.

View full Media Release

SDN could drive iPhone-like change

By Richard Watson

Software-defined networking has a lot of hype to live up to. Many experts are expecting the trend to take off within the next few years, as computing processes become more complicated. SDN will be able to provide a more standardized way of controlling multiple systems from one platform, which will be essential to future operations as management continues to become more complex. Although some may view aggressive support in this technology as jumping the gun before it can fully prove its functions, it will be more advantageous to embrace SDN early. With the opportunities and capabilities that SDN has already shown in its arsenal, there’s never been a better time to look into this trend and see what else it has to offer.

SDN reflective of Apple’s innovations
Numerous organizations and experts have been talking up SDN and its potential as a business asset. We are at the leading-edge of SDN, but I personally feel in enterprise, SDN has the potential to drive the kind of change that Apple’s iPhone drove in the cellphone world. Before iPhone came around, the applications were tightly controlled by the carrier. Each carrier would say “oh I’m going to sell you a Verizon GPS application for $5 a month” or “I’m going to sell you visual voicemail for $3 a month.” So first of all, you had very few applications and those applications were expensive and not that good.

When Apple opened it up to third parties, it unleashed a wave of innovation. The applications developers came in, started developing and today, it’s a totally new world. We can’t live without our smartphones anymore, and we are taking them for granted. Networking is in a very parallel phase. It’s very closed, you buy everything from Cisco. Cisco will provide you all the applications for security, analytics and stuff. As long as you buy everything from Cisco, it will work, but they are expensive, and they are not the most user-friendly applications.

By supporting SDN and partnering with other players and helping drive the ecosystem of partners, we feel it will increase the velocity of innovation, and over the next few years, there will be a lot more applications available for enterprises to realize the benefit. Just like with iPhone, we could not foresee the different kinds of applications that might appear, we probably don’t know where the advancement will come from, but we are confident a greater amount of innovation will be unleashed.

Will SDN succeed?
In our services, we are now offering SDN-enabled solutions that will help customers easily integrate systems with their current architecture. With SDN capability, managing these networks will be significantly easier for any business that has hardware from multiple vendors. With the type of change that SDN is expected to drive in the near future, it’s likely that it will be around as an enterprise asset for the long run.

BYOD in the workplace

Bring your own device

Bring your own device, or BYOD, is a phenomenon allowing personal laptops, tablets and smartphones into the workplace to gain online access and view company information. Initially met with trepidation, it is now firmly entrenched into the corporate world. Whether employers like it or not, it’s happening! So should you have a policy in place?

This article seeks to answer a few of the tough questions surrounding the support of BYOD in the workplace, whilst also providing advice to businesses, real world examples and considerations to help you implement BYOD to work in your favor.

Visit Purple WiFi to read whole article

How far will U.S. Flyers Go for In-Flight Wi-Fi?

To persuade airlines that it is high-time to provide high-flying, high-speed Wi-Fi, AT&T partner Honeywell continues its tradition of presenting statistics proving how desperate passengers are for this service and just what they’re willing to do to get it.

Visit Skift.com to view the whole article

Why invest in quality audio?

Polycom co-founder Jeff Rodman shares his thoughts on how to defy distance and be more productive in conference calls and gives some insight into the benefits of using HD Voice.

Learn more about Polycom HD Voice

Above the Crowd with High Capacity Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is Challenging – How to handle high density Wi-Fi?

Providing reliable wireless connectivity in large, highly dense event venues remains a huge challenge. Fans and visitors have come to expect mobile data access anytime, anywhere, but most carriers and venues struggle to deliver reliable connectivity in such dense environments. And even when users get connected, there can be problems downloading basic information from overloaded networks.

The rapid adoption of 4G-capable smartphones and tablets has only raised attendee expectations and increased the magnitude of the challenge. To alleviate the problem, many carriers partner with event venues to leverage the venues’ Wi-Fi networks to offload data from their cellular networks. This can only work well if the venues’ Wi-Fi solutions can provide reliable, high-performing access in these dense environments.

So what is the solution?

Visit Meru Networks to read full Solution Brief

Spectralink in a Microsoft Lync Environment

WIN MORE with Wireless Voice

Spectralink recently published a presentation about the implementation and use of Wireless Voice in Retail, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Logistics and how it’s implementation can often produce far greater results over a smartphone or tablet solution.

The presentation addresses the challenges of Wireless voice versus Smartphones and provides  information on how Spectralink and Microsoft Lync solutions can provide greater security, reliability and a robust voice communication system to industries that need it.

Please note: there is audio attached to the presentation that provides a more detailed overlook, so please ensure you have your audio on and click the “More information” button within the presentation.

Download the presentation


Bringing Wi-Fi to Healthcare

Evolving best practices for developing and deploying mobile healthcare devices

Today’s medical staffs increasingly rely upon wireless networks and devices to conduct critical-care applications, access electronic medical records and test results, and to share information throughout facilities. At the same time, Wi-Fi networks in healthcare facilities are being pushed to the limits by the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend among patients and guests.

The emergence of Wi-Fi as a mission-critical network technology poses dual challenges to the two critical groups involved in ensuring the quality of healthcare.

Visit Wireless Design and Development to view the whole article