AirTight Networks Cloud Management Console

It’s been a month since I attended Wireless Field Day 5 and one of the most impressive demonstrations during the event was by AirTight Networks. Now that I have played with the AirTight AP device along with the cloud management console I wanted to share some of the features plus how user-friendly the system is.

A quick overview of the AirTight Networks solution is there is no controller or central management device placed in your network data center, and the entire wireless network can be configured, managed, and monitored in the cloud. The configuration and Wi-Fi policies defined in the cloud are than pushed out to the APs and all the routing decisions are done at the networks edge. Another nice feature is the cloud management program is HTML5 based and can be accessed from any smart device.

When I first logged into the AirTight cloud console it is a little over whelming, but I quickly found the system and UI very easy to navigate. Near the top of the screen is a navigation bar listing the six main areas of the system, and below the navigation bar is a bread crumb location trail, and between these two location tool bars I found it extremely easy to move around the system or know my current location.

locationbar

Navigation Tool Bars

Help on any screen is just a click away! No matter what screen your on a ? in the upper right corner can be clicked on for immediate help for the current screen and options.

dasboardhelp

Dashboard Help Screen

The consoles home screen displays a dashboard to quickly convey information or statistics about the network and connected devices.

Dashboard

Dashboard

The dashboard screen is fully customizable, and adding extra dashboards and widgets can be done with a few clicks of the mouse. The screen shot below shows a newly added dashboard screen along with the different widget categories to add monitoring or information elements to the dashboard screen.

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Dashboard and Widget Setup

On the left hand side of the main screen is the location tree to organize the wireless network. Wi-Fi policies and configuration settings can be assigned at any level in the location tree, or locations can inherit policies from higher level folders.

Location Tree

Location Tree

A really nice feature is when your down to the building level a floor plan can be uploaded to the system. I uploaded a simple PNG file, but as the screen shot below shows I can still assign some dimensions to the floor plan as part of the upload.

Floor Plan Upload

Floor Plan Upload

Once the floor plan is uploaded the AP devices can be placed on top of the floor plan and a heat map showing the approximate coverage areas can be generated.

Floor Plan Heat Map

Floor Plan Heat Map

There is an option to upload a SPM file that can have more intelligence built into the floor plan including the building materials which would give a better representation of the heat map coverage area.

The configuration area is where the majority of the Wi-Fi and AP settings are defined. Below is a screen shot of the configuration screen to create an SSID profile. I don’t have enough time to cover the different sections or options available, but a great demonstration video by Sean Blanton (@blantr0n) is available on the Airtight Networks web site. Sean covers many of the configuration options in the video, and I definitely recommend watching this video for anyone wanting to learn more of the granular settings that can be configured.

SSIDprofile

SSID Profile Configuration

Another great resource to learn about the AirTight Networks cloud management console is the Wireless Field Day 5 demonstration presented by Kaustubh Phanse.

One final awesome resource is since the Wireless Field Day 5 event AirTight Networks is having a promotion for anyone to receive a free AP and a cloud management trail to conduct their own test. For anyone interested in this promotion visit the AirTight Networks web site for more information.

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AirTight Networks Promotion

Additional demonstration videos about AirTight Networks and their wireless network solutions are available on the Wireless Field Day 5 YouTube page.

Wireless Field Day 5 was “Sort of a BIG DEAL”

Big-DealAttending Wireless Field Day 5 as a first time delegate was such an honor, and I was perfectly aware of how significant past Wireless Field Day events have been. But being involved and experiencing the event first hand I realized just how big of a deal the event really is! The Wireless Field Day event gathers some of the best wireless talent and companies together to talk about and showcase the latest and greatest in wireless technologies. No details are left out in the planning and coordination of the event, and the vendors go all out with their presentations and demonstrations. It is three days for the wireless world to shine and put on a show, and it is a BIG DEAL!

Now that I’m back home from Wireless Field Day 5 and had a few days to recoup, and start to go over my notes and oganize my thoughts into blogs, and begin playing with some of the goodies I received from the vendors I wanted to quickly give what I remember most from the event.

The Delegates

I’m not sure what the cumulative years of experience among all the delegates is, let’s just say a lot, but talking to them and hearing their stories it becomes clear they are talented and passionate people. It was a thrill to hang out with the other delegates, and I only wish I had more time to spend with all of them. If you ever get the chance to meet any of the delegates you will greatly benefit from their expertise!

Below is the Wireless Field Day 5 delegate list along with links to their twitter accounts and blogs. The delegates are starting to post about the event and presentations, and much more about WFD5 is going be published in the coming weeks and months.

Blake Krone / @blakeKrone  /  Living the Digital Lifestyle

Chris Lyttle  / @WiFiKiwi  /  Musings on Wi-Fi and Wireless Security

Daniel Cybulskie  /  @simplywifi  /  Simply Wi-Fi

George Stefanick  /  @WirelessGuru  /  MY80211.com

Jake Snyder  /  @JSnyder81  /  Transmit Failure

Jennifer Huber  /  @JenniferLucille  /  JenniferHuber

Keith R. Parsons  /  @KeithRParsons  /  wirelessLAN Professionals

Lee Badman  /  @WiredNot  /  Wirednot  /  Network Computing

Ryan Adzima  /  @RAdzima  /  Techvangelist

Sam Clements  /  @Samuel_Clements  /  SC-Wi-Fi

3 Days, 9 Vendors, 18 Hours of Presentations!

Three words, wireless information overload!

The vendors shared a tremendous amount of information at Wireless Field Day 5, and all the sessions were recorded and now posted to the Tech Field Day YouTube Channel. I have started watching the online videos to help piece together my notes or fill in some of the details I missed, but these videos offer a substantial amount of information for anyone interested in wireless technology.

Video Production Crew

Ben and Andrea did an awesome Job! Part of the Wireless Field Day event that not every one is aware of is the constant moving from place to place for the presentations. Ben and Andrea always had their equipment setup and ready to go for each presentation, and it was amazing to watch them break down and/or setup for the sessions. They definitely had the process down to a science! The result of their hard work was the live online stream and now the WFD5 event videos that have been posted online for every ones viewing.

Metageek

Chris Woerz and Stoney Tuckness talked about and demonstrated the different products offered by Metageek, and for myself it was the most memorable of the presentations. Their approach seemed to hit on the hey we are one of you and needed simple yet informative tools to monitor, survey, and troubleshoot wireless networks. The products are very affordable, and whether you’re an experienced WLAN engineer or someone new to wireless these tools offer something for everyone to help with the day-to-day wireless network maintenance. Here is a link to the Metageek home page listing their product line, and there is an excellent video tutorial page on the Metageek site as well. During the presentation the Metageek guys handed out several gifts to the delegates, and after the session completed they introduced themselves to me and as a first time delegate gave me a few extras (see the picture below). Thanks to Metageek for being so generous and I’m really looking forward to test driving the utilities. I know I can use the Metageek utilities immediately in my network to help trouble shoot or see what is going on in the RF environment, and cannot wait to write about my experiences using their utilities.

metageek

Aerohive

Being in the K-12 environment I was really looking forward to seeing Aerohive demonstrate their controller-less APs and BYOD solutions. Aerohive started their presentation talking about the proliferation of wireless devices along with an overview of their cloud enabled solutions. After the Aerohive introduction several presenters demonstrated their controller-less cloud solutions including client management and on boarding, ID Manager for guest registration, and application visibility and control that can perform deep packet inspection. One of the best sessions from any vendor was when Aerohive’s Matthew Gast talked about 802.11ac. This is a highly recommended video to watch, not just by myself, but the other delegates and many of the Twitter viewers were raving about Matthew as well. Another highlight of WFD5 was after Aerohive’s sessions completed I was able to meet many of the companies employees. I started to recognize many of the names from social media, blogs I follow, and as authors of several books on wireless I have read including the CWNA and CWSP study guides. The only way I can describe it is going to a Van Halen concert and after the concert getting to go back stage to meet the band. It was an impressive amount of talent gathered at one vendor!

Airtight and Xirrus

Two more vendor presentations I was looking forward to seeing was Airtight Networks and Xirrus and they did not disappoint. I believe Airtight was a first time presenter and there was a lot of Twitter buzz about their being involved with Wireless Field Day 5. Airtight is known for their security and WIPS products and has branched out to controller-less APs with just about everything being software defined in the cloud. Their presentation started with an excellent talk of the company’s background presented by David King. After the company introduction several people demonstrated the cloud management, social Wi-Fi, and guest BYOD on boarding solutions. The Airtight solutions are very intriguing, and I look forward to learning and writing more about Airtight.

The Xirrus radio array solution is very interesting, and this presentation probably had the delegates asking the most questions. Dirk Gates was a great speaker and very knowledgeable, and while he may not have answered all the radio interference questions, he is definitely wireless smart and good to listen to. Xirrus offers APs with 2, 4, 8, and 16 radio arrays, and the Xirrus Management System (XMS) can be used to monitor and mange the wireless array network. Some advantages of the array APs would be a lower number of devices to install, less cable runs, and they give excellent capacity in high density areas. As with Airtight I look forward to checking out the Xirrus website and learning more about their radio array solutions.

Customers Telling Their Stories

Two vendors, Xirrus and Meru Networks, each had a customer speak for about 20 minutes to tell their success story. It was interesting to hear from an outside source about each vendor and how their solution was installed, configured, supported, and why the solution was an improvement on what was previously there. I’m not recommending for future wireless field day events every vendor have a customer speak, but it was that something different approach that got noticed by many of the delegates and the Twitter crowd. It wasn’t the super wow factor that caught my attention, but having someone not directly employed by the vendor help tell the story. It might be something for vendors to think about for future field day events as far as what can they do different.

The BIG DEAL Continues!

The Twitter conversations can be followed using the #WFD5 hash-tag, and be sure to check out the delegate blogs and the vendor websites to read more about the event. If you missed the live event the videos have been posted online.

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please leave any comments or questions or drop a comment about what you thought was memorable from Wireless Field Day 5.

Studying for Wireless Field Day 5

WFD-Logo1-wpcf_400x398No… there isn’t a test at Wireless Field Day 5, but being one of the two new delegates to the event I wanted to gather as much knowledge as I could prior to the nine vendor presentations at WFD5. For the most part I know of each vendor and their products, but have limited working experience with their solutions, so I wanted to share some of my research I have done to prepare for Wireless Field Day 5. To keep this post of moderate length I cannot mention every vendor and/or resource, and the vendors mentioned here is in no way favoring them or a knock on the other vendors. With nine vendors presenting, and each having two hours for a total of 18 hours of demonstrations I’m sure to have plenty to share in future posts about all the vendors.

One of my fellow WFD5 delegates wrote a great blog post last week about the upcoming Wireless Field Day event and what to aspect from such an event. The published post was by @wirednot and mentions several of the vendors presenting at WFD5 and lists some of the hot topics that might come up during the presentations. Again, being one of the two first time delegates this blog post gave me an overall feel for the event and had some good links to learn about past delegates, past Wireless Field Day events, and links to several of the vendors presenting.

Another really good article titled “Another Controller-less Wi-Fi Solution” posted this week by @matthewnorwood highlights the Airtight Networks APs and management solutions. The article has a link to the Airtight Network web site where I watched a series of demonstration videos. The videos were well-organized and ranged from 2 to 6 minutes in length, and each video concentrated on a certain area or topic for the Airtight solution. I found the videos very informative and they covered some hot topics in wireless including cloud management, software defined radios, BYOD, security and monitoring. The article isn’t completely about Airtight Networks and Matthew does talk about the three planes of wired and wireless traffic along with an overview on basic WLAN network architectures (some cool graphics).

Working in the education market I have followed Aerohive Networks and read about their BYOD and education solutions. Like the other vendors the Aerohive website is full of information with plenty of documentation, videos, and blogs. Aerohive does have a YouTube channel (other vendors may have YouTube channels as well) and the videos posted on YouTube were another resource I used to learn about Aerohive. Andrew von Nagy will be presenting at WFD5 for Aerohive and I look forward to meeting Andrew and seeing his presentation. Anyone following Andrew on Twitter (@andrewvonnagy) knows he shares a lot of great stuff, not just on Aerohive, but wireless technologies in general. Andrew’s revolutionwifi blog was one of the first wireless blogs I started following and I’m always impressed with the content, knowledge, and style of how Andrew presents the material he writes about.

To be honest all the delegates for Wireless Field Day 5 have outstanding blogs and I have spent many hours reading their posts. These blogs are a tremendous resource for me with tons of information and details on networking, wireless, security, hardware, software, storage, etc… Each delegate’s perspective on the wireless world and related technologies along with their knowledge and passion for wireless really shows in their posts. Links to all the delegates blogs are available on the Wireless Field Day 5 website.

Three vendors, Fluke Networks, Metageek, and Wildpackets will be presenting on their products for packet analysis, site surveying, network performance, and network monitoring. I’m familiar with these vendors and most of their products, but I still visited each of their websites for a refresher ahead of WFD5. Since I don’t have an expansive IT budget I tend to use freely available utilities and I’m really looking forward to seeing these three presentations and how their enterprise solutions compare to the open source tools I’m accustomed to using. I definitely should have more to post about these three vendors, the presentations, and their products.

For myself reading the blogs and visiting the vendor websites was not only great for learning, but for also noticing trends and what could be the future direction for wireless technologies.

For anyone wanting to see the Wireless Field Day 5 presentation schedule along with links to watch the live demonstrations can visit the Wireless Field Day 5 web site. The event can be followed on Twitter using the #WFD5 hash tag.

Virtual High Five for Wireless Field Day 5!

WFD-Logo1-wpcf_400x398With just over a week to Wireless Field Day 5 I wanted to say thank you to Stephen Foskett (@sfoskett) and the Wireless Field Day crew. I was so honored when asked about attending Wireless Field Day 5 and have been totally impressed with the planning, communication, and organization of the event. Stephen and crew have worked hard to plan so many of the details I feel my only responsibility is making the flight and bringing some extra clothes!

To increase my excitement for WFD5 I have checked out blog posts from past WFD attendees and they really paint a picture of the events being nothing short of excellent with great people coming together to share their technical knowledge.

One such article, “The Value of Tech Field Day” by @pandom_ has circulated on Twitter this past week.

I have never personally met the other delegates, but have run across or had conversations with most if not all of them through social media. I do consider the other delegates the “rock stars” of the wireless world and really look forward to meeting them and talking wireless, but mostly learning as much as I can cram into my memory!

Stephen and crew have also set up a great lineup of vendor presentations and since I first saw the lineup 2 or 3 more vendors were added, and at last glance there are 9 vendors presenting at the conference!

Between rubbing elbows with the other delegates and seeing the vendor presentations I will be on information overload and I wish I could stick a USB drive in my ear to help bring home the material and knowledge I’m sure to learn.

Thanks to Stephen, the WFD5 crew, the other delegates, and the vendors! Being a Wireless Field Day newbie everyone has been tremendous and made me feel welcome and already part of the Wireless Field Day family!

Thank You! Dale

Any one wanting to check out the list of delegates along with the vendor presentation schedule can visit the Wireless Field Day 5 website, and the event can be followed on Twitter with the #WFD5 hash tag.