Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

The (Network) Nightmare Before Christmas and the High Density Solution (No Magic Required)

December 19, 2016

Picture the scene. It’s Christmas Eve and thousands of jolly little elves are packing Santa’s sleigh in preparation for the annual midnight trip around the world, delivering presents to children everywhere. The warehouse is aglow with Christmas spirit as the industrious imps scurry about at lightning speed, picking the right gifts for each child and ensuring each is labelled correctly to ensure it reaches the correct recipient.

It’s a well-practiced routine they’ve got nailed to perfection, but wait – something isn’t quite right. It seems the Christmas magic keeps dropping out, interrupting warehouse operations at the worst possible time. The elfin hand-held devices are taking forever to refresh and there’s simply too much to do to revert to manual processes. Not to mention that being unproductive is severely detrimental to the wellbeing of elves, who only know how to keep busy.

What could be the cause, and can anybody fix the issue and save Christmas?!!!

Step forward Network Elf, who’s been warning for years that failing to invest in upgrading the Christmas magic network is only investing in failure. He’s uncharacteristically negative in outlook for an elf, which is why he’s kept away from the toy factory and hidden in the IT room, in case you were wondering.

With the clock ticking and a throng of increasingly anxious elves pacing about furiously, Network Elf calmly checks out the Christmas magic analytics and provides a diagnosis:

  1. High volume of network traffic – the world’s population has increased from 6 billion in 1999 to 7.4 billion today, and is forecast to reach between 8.3 and 10.9 billion by 2050. That means a lot more presents to process and fit in that sleigh.
  2. Warehouse hotspots – those elves may be fast on their feet, but they’re all packing the same sleigh, creating a hotspot and slowing down the Christmas magic as they all attempt to register gifts deposited in the sleigh in the exact same location.
  3. RF interruption – Mrs Claus is battling a cold and keeps microwaving different remedies in an attempt to get through the busiest night of the year, which is interfering with the Christmas magic. And the new CCTV put in place to keep an eye on agency elves and reindeer (yes, seasonal staffing is an issue at the North Pole too) is interfering with the radio frequency.

Thankfully, Christmas came early for the elves of the North Pole. Santa already has the Christmas magic (you may know it as Wi-Fi) upgrade covered. We all know he sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, so he was certainly aware of Network Elf stomping around his office muttering about dense Wi-Fi traffic (supposedly under his breath).

This year, the North Pole is getting the Cisco High Density Experience (HDX) suite of solutions, which automatically manage the airwaves and improves Wi-Fi performance on Christmas Eve and every other day. Available on Cisco’s indoor and outdoor access points, it’s regularly updated with new features that alleviate high-density network strain and improve elf experiences as 802.11ac and other trends load the airwaves with more traffic.

In the (Saint) nick of time, Christmas magic (Wi-Fi) in the North Pole warehouse goes into overdrive and the sleigh is packed in no time. Children the world over will wake to a festive treat and their faith in Christmas magic unbroken, while the North Pole elves will party late into the night, delighted they were able to triumph in the face of adversity.

I’ll leave you with some choice words of wisdom from Network Elf on Cisco HDX, for elves or mere mortals managing busy supply chain operations:

  • Enhanced optimised roaming: if performance degrades as elves (or Wi-Fi users) move, this feature intelligently steers clients to an access point with a stronger signal – without interrupting the connection.
  • CleanAir® for 160-MHz channels: proactive protection against RF interference with spectrum scanning, source identification, and remediation that now works across 160-MHz channel widths.
  • ClientLink: Cisco’s patented beamforming technology that improves performance of 802.11ac clients as well as 802.11a/g/n legacy clients to improve the signal and the elf experience.
  • Dynamic bandwidth selection (with FlexDFS): continually analyses and selects the best channel width for use in current conditions. If radar is detected on part, but not all, of the frequency, the access point can narrow the serving channel from 160 to 80 to 40 or 20 MHz, rather than moving entirely to a new frequency, enhancing spectrum efficiency.
  • Event-Driven Radio Resource Management (ED-RRM): Rapidly changes channels to avoid interference, doing in seconds what previously could take minutes. Elf IT can also set thresholds to determine when traffic automatically moves to a clear or less busy channel.
  • HDX Air Time Fairness (ATF): Simplifies Christmas magic (OK, Wi-Fi) traffic management by enabling network administrators to allocate specific percentages of airtime to heterogeneous groups of clients or customers.

If you need help with your Christmas magic, or indeed your Wi-Fi, check out our Wireless Wizard video, visit the Cisco Digital Network Architecture web page, or contact the Cisco Network Elves.

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