February 5, 2010

The Economics of Cooperative Control in Wireless LANs

Aerohive Networks' Cooperative Control architecture provides a simple, logical, and low-cost alternative for deploying WLAN infrastructures. The Aerohive approach combines a linear and predictable cost structure - regardless of deployment type or size - with the industry's most user-friendly and scalable WNMS.

Aerohive has created a high-performance, feature-packed WLAN infrastructure system that significantly reduces the overall CAPEX and OPEX costs and the complexity of deploying and scaling convenience-oriented and mission-critical enterprise networks. With Cooperative Control, the intent of Wi-Fi's founding fathers has been realized. Protocols are free.

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This is a most interesting paper on various architectures for controlling wireless LANs. In particular, the centralized versus distributed discussion is quite familiar to many of us.

While there are certain aspects that are unique to the WLAN world, I also find it comforting that we are still having many of the same discussions that we had in the 1980s concerning centralized versus distributed control for T1 mux networks.

Very much worth the read!

In addition to the papers listed here, Aerohive has a couple of additional excellent resources at Webtorials.  In particular, there is a podcast with Joanie Wexler and an offer of a trial of the online version of their network planning tool.

The subtitle of the paper is "Protocols are Free."

In this case, is the protocol used between the APs an open protocol so that it could be used by multiple vendors or is it an Aerohive-specific protocol?

All today’s Wi-Fi solutions, and most of networking, use their own protocols for the “internal” control functions (roaming,load balancing,QoS etc) and provide standards based interfaces to the outside world (WPA, 802.1X, 802.11n etc). What Aerohive does differently is that we don’t require additional dedicated hardware (Controller$) to run those protocols and we don’t license those protocols so that you have to pay more if you want to turn on QoS to run voice, or you want to use our mesh functionality.

Steve and Stephen - there was an optional component to the 802.11 standard suite, ratified in 2003, called 802.11F - the "Inter-Access Point Protocol." 802.11F was intended to be used, Steve, as you described: between APs made by different vendors. Adoption never caught on and the standard has grown dormant. I wonder if it might be revived someday as islands of Wi-Fi networks in public places possibly get "stitched together" to provide more pervasive coverage? The "thread" could be 802.11F.

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