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Wireless Networks Thread, Managed wireless upgrade in Technical; Hi Folks We have had a Trapeze (now Juniper) managed wireless network in our school now for about 5 years. ...
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    truebluesteve's Avatar
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    Managed wireless upgrade

    Hi Folks

    We have had a Trapeze (now Juniper) managed wireless network in our school now for about 5 years. It has worked very well over that time with almost no downtime other than work we have carried out. However we have now come to the point where we are consdering upgrading to support the plethora of BYoD that are appearing. We want to increase the density in certain areas and also support N devices as these are becoming increasing popular. We have 2 options -

    1. Upgrade the existing Trapeze setup - To use some of the latest APs and especially those with N capability, we will need to upgrade the controller as well as any AP's. This is probably the cheapest option, but Juniper dont seem to be pushing their wireless offerings very much and appear to be lagging behind their competitiors when it comes to guest access and BYoD and other innovations.

    2. Change to a different vendor - We are currently looking at both Meru and Aruba who both seem to be very active in the education market and seem to have unique selling points for their systems. The infrastructure is already in place so in terms of cost its not going be significant.

    I wondered if any of you guys had thoughts on the the above.

    Thanks

    Steve

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    If it was me in your position I would upgrade if I had the money to a new supplier.

    We currently use Aruba and have hundreds of AP's dotted around over around 50+ sites and we cannot fault it. Some offices are just totally wireless and it works very well.

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    CPLTD's Avatar
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    Out of interest Steve, what is putting you off considering Ruckus? 4500+ UK educational deployments and climbing...

    Thanks,

    Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by CPLTD View Post
    Out of interest Steve, what is putting you off considering Ruckus? 4500+ UK educational deployments and climbing...

    Thanks,

    Mark
    Ruckus here and can't fault Mark and CPLTD.

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    A word of caution, the infrastructure to support a 100% coverage, is sometimes quite different to that that required to support high density deployments.

    If you are going to have more than 75 clients in a cell (aka collision domain) then you will probably need to have at least two radios in that location on differing channels. Increase the density further and the number of radios goes up again. This means that your current wired infrastructure may not be in the right places for your high density WLAN. It also makes a mockery of the 1-6-11 design to avoid co-channel interference. (unless you can get all your clients into 5Ghz - but since you're talking BYOD this is outside of your control)

    Various vendors approach this problem in differing ways. The jury is out on which one has the best approach. You MUST visit reference sites and check AP models, locations, loads and firmware versions against proposals you recieve.

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    Hey, Our technicians say in a high density school environment you cant fault the Meru system as their management system and the way the controller deals with traffic is second to none. I spent my whole summer going from school to school doing the physical instillation of these systems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CPLTD View Post
    Out of interest Steve, what is putting you off considering Ruckus? 4500+ UK educational deployments and climbing...

    Thanks,

    Mark
    Was just wondering if you could clear something up for me re: Ruckus BeamFlex?

    I am not entirely sure how it is actually of any benefit. The Ruckus AP, with BeamFlex, forms the beam and sends it to the iPad/iPhone/BYOD device. But how does the iPad/iPhone/BYOD device send the signal back to the AP? Surely you're going to need more APs for this to work which completely eliminates the whole point of BeamFlex?

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    truebluesteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CPLTD View Post
    Out of interest Steve, what is putting you off considering Ruckus? 4500+ UK educational deployments and climbing...

    Thanks,

    Mark

    Hadn't really heard much about them tbh Mark. Happy to do so though

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    glennda's Avatar
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    If you are considering Wireless vendors - then also consider Meraki - recently purchased by Cisco. I've been using the kit for the last 7-8 months at a variety of places with great success, The kit looks nice, performs well and the best part about it is that it essentially "just works". The configuration is all done from the web. Expanding is purely a case of inputting the serial number into the web-interface on the cloud controller and plugging it in.

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    We had Mark (UK MD) and Paul (UK Tech Lead) from Meru pop in for a visit last week for a chat and to look at a couple of things wee wanted to do. Very helpful and informative.

    We have been running it for nearly 2 years.

    Their way of handling the channels works very well as do the dual band radios.

    They also have vMware appliances for the controllers now

    Rob

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    glennda's Avatar
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    I think that is key, having a virtual/cloud controller IMHO is key to any wireless network these days, no point having a physical controller these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    I think that is key, having a virtual/cloud controller IMHO is key to any wireless network these days, no point having a physical controller these days.
    Care to explain the advantages?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tallwood_6 View Post
    Care to explain the advantages?
    Continuity. A virtual controller runs internally in the WAPs or via a VMware image. No downtime due to a single point of hardware failure within the wireless system. You get built-in redundancy for no additional cost. A cloud controller would be Meraki or placing a VMware image out in a private cloud. In Meraki's case your data is stored across three data centers with failover for redundancy. Your wireless network continues to run during any outages to your WAN or during failover to another one of their data centers. You also don't have to worry about managing the hardware, powering it, running firmware/software updates to match APs/controllers, etc.

    If you go with a hardware controller you not only have to purchase the expensive controller up front and pay for licenses/maintenance/warranty over time, but you are also limited to a single unit or potentially doubling your costs for high availability.

    When we went with Meraki for some of our installations the educational discounts (and I have seen corporations receive the same) resulted in less annual fees than virtually all if its competitors ($45 USD per AP with no up front hardware controller or fees associated with the controller). This $45 annual fee includes the cloud controller, 24/7/365 tech support and overnight replacement of any hardware. By comparison another vendor we use charges 10% annually on the MSRP of all hardware including the required 4 controllers. Over 5 years it is actually cheaper for us to rip out the entire system and replace it with Meraki and we know we would see a performance increase as well.
    Last edited by SuperfluousAdjective; 19th December 2012 at 07:45 PM.

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    glennda (19th December 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperfluousAdjective View Post
    Continuity. A virtual controller runs internally in the WAPs or via a VMware image. No downtime due to a single point of hardware failure within the wireless system. You get built-in redundancy for no additional cost. A cloud controller would be Meraki or placing a VMware image out in a private cloud. In Meraki's case your data is stored across three data centers with failover for redundancy. Your wireless network continues to run during any outages to your WAN or during failover to another one of their data centers. You also don't have to worry about managing the hardware, powering it, running firmware/software updates to match APs/controllers, etc.

    If you go with a hardware controller you not only have to purchase the expensive controller up front and pay for licenses/maintenance/warranty over time, but you are also limited to a single unit or potentially doubling your costs for high availability.

    When we went with Meraki for some of our installations the educational discounts (and I have seen corporations receive the same) resulted in less annual fees than virtually all if its competitors ($45 USD per AP with no up front hardware controller or fees associated with the controller). This $45 annual fee includes the cloud controller, 24/7/365 tech support and overnight replacement of any hardware. By comparison another vendor we use charges 10% annually on the MSRP of all hardware including the required 4 controllers. Over 5 years it is actually cheaper for us to rip out the entire system and replace it with Meraki and we know we would see a performance increase as well.
    That - plus a virtual image tends to be licensed per ap rather then fixed costs for a physical one.

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    I'm thinking is the instance of Ruckus, at the moment I plug in an AP it it picked up the lastest firmware is applied and its configured and working without me having to touch it. I can tunnel traffic back to the controller and of course the APs only have to talk over the LAN where bandwidth is plentiful and If the controller goes down the APs still function. If I chose not to renew our support then all we would lose are further updates everything still functions I'm not sure what would happen with Meraki?
    Surely with Meraki APs some config is required on each AP before it can be picked up by the "cloud" controller?

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