Monday, October 18, 2010

Scaling All Things Mobile

I was on the road last week week to Educause.  For those of you not aware, Educause is THE premier conference for IT in Higher Education.  Folks were buzzing with tales and expressing keen interest in all things mobile with the iPad, iPhone and Android being front and center.  Engaging in numerous conversations myself, the central theme emerging from those discussions was all about scaling wireless access to accommodate the onslaught of mobile devices while satisfying their thirst for multimedia bandwidth.  It was interesting to note that many users now carry more than one device; typically a converged, mobile phone plus an iPad and/or laptop.  Also intriguing was that for many, these mobile devices aren't spread out across their environment but clustered into areas with high population densities.  As if connecting the sheer numbers of devices isn't enough of a challenge, accommodating highly dense clusters of these multimedia "bad boys" increases that challenge by an order of magnitude.

Prior to my trip, I had the opportunity to review a document focused exactly at addressing these challenges.  Aruba Networks produces a series of documentation known as Validated Reference Designs or VRD's.  These are templates aimed at giving you deployable examples of wireless designs to meet various criteria.  But the real value I've found in VRD's is that their templates have been built and empirically tested with test criteria and results fully documented.  Aruba has just released the latest in their series; the High Density VRD.  The HD VRD explores numerous techniques for scaling bandwidth in highly dense, high capacity environments using RF spectrum management coupled with selective AP placement strategies.  This includes orthogonal channel selection methodologies with channel re-use, band-steering and AP/client power management just to name a few.  Most impressive was the amount of research given to AP placement including antenna placement and polarization strategies that effectively use elements of the environment in which they're deployed.

I found the HD VRD to be a most informative and enlightening read being directly applicable to the scaling challenges I discussed with my Educause colleagues.  I encourage you to read it for yourself.

By the way, Educause is at the Anaheim Convention Center this year (i.e. Disneyland).  I was able to catch their free outdoor Wi-Fi and FaceTime Mickey to the kids as I strolled the streets of Downtown Disney.

It truly is a highly mobile, multimedia world!

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