News Analysis: Large networks such as the one at National Autonomous University of Mexico may greatly benefit from a wireless solution that delivers distributed intelligence and maximum redundancy at the edge, rather than packing it all into centralized controllers housed in the data center.
With IEEE 802.11n significantly ratcheting up the amount of traffic
that can be generated from a wireless network, large WiFi
deployments-such as the one at National Autonomous University of
Mexico-may greatly benefit
from a wireless solution that delivers distributed intelligence and
redundancy at the edge, rather than packing it into centralized
housed in the data center.
Aerohive Networks has been at the forefront of the distributed
architecture movement for several years, as its cooperative control protocols spread controller
functions among all access points, rather than centralizing them on an expensive
piece of data center hardware. With access points that self-organize into hives
to share control plane information, the distributed architecture still provides
advanced functions such as fast layer 2 and layer 3 roaming, cooperative RF management,
security and mesh networking.
Other wireless LAN vendors have paid heed to the distributed
movement over the last few years, splitting the management, control and data
planes to minimize the amount of traffic that needs to flow back to the
controller while putting back some intelligence to the access point. And Meraki went so
far as to take the controller out of the data center, moving those
functions to the cloud.
But now it appears that the father of controller-based
architecture is even moving away from classic controller-based
architecture. Motorola, which bought
Symbol Technologies in 2006, also apparently will move much network intelligence
closer to the edge. Symbol, of course,
shipped the first controller-based architecture back in 2002.
Paraphrasing Al??Â¡n Lopez, Motorola's senior marketing manager
of its WLAN Portfolio, from a YouTube video
11n and the much higher throughput at the access points, it takes a little bit
of rethink on the architecture side...with all that throughput, the wireless
controller starts to become a bottleneck. It was really about trying to architect a paradigm that takes that bottleneck
out of the equation...distributing intelligence to the access points."
For instance, the UNAM (National Autonomous University of
Mexico) faculty of Law wanted to make WiFi coverage ubiquitous for cell
phones, laptops and other client devices of its almost-17,000 academics and
students, a network that would cover 30,000 square meters of classrooms,
auditoriums and other public spaces. Coined
"The Digital Facility," the WiFi network is intended to host telephony and
video-conferencing traffic, in addition to typical Internet access, once
Along with a four-person IT team, Ruperto Pati??o, UNAM faculty
of Law director, wanted to make sure their solution could handle their traffic
mix and volume while remaining easy to manage given limited support resources, no
matter what WLAN architecture they chose. They also needed to ensure the manufacturer could provide quality support
"We decided on Aerohive Networks," said Pati??o. "The Aerohive
network would provide the power we needed, and it would be easy to administer
with our tight IT resources."
Aerohive offers a two-tier distribution model in Mexico. A VAD (value-added dealer) called TekMart provides
the first tier, with a reseller called DataTeam as the second tier. When it comes to product support, these two
companies reverse roles (as both organizations employ certified Aerohive
engineers), with Aerohive as the third tier.
concern about product support in Mexico, Aerohive's controller-less architecture
should be especially attractive. Not
because of the technical wizardry of the architecture, but because the
architecture eliminates the need for a large, expensive and possibly
hard-to-replace-on-short-notice piece of hardware that could be a single point of
failure for the entire network. "Given the scope of their network deployments,
universities such as UNAM require a controller-less AP architecture like Aerohive's,"
said Stephen Philip, Aerohive vice president of Product Marketing. "Controller-less
APs are easy to install, easy to use, and easy to manage-offering the type
of low-overhead that is needed in a sprawled out, traffic-intensive environment
such as a university campus that serves hundreds to thousands of concurrent