Stories by Craig Mathias

What is virtualization?

No advance in information technology in the past six decades has offered a greater range of quantifiable benefits than has virtualization.

AirMagnet breaks new ground in wireless spectrum analysis

Everyone needs a Wi-Fi spectrum analyzer, but there are times when analyzing cellular spectrum is also essential. Fluke Networks' new AirMagnet Spectrum ES provides a broad range of capability at a very attractive price. Spectral analysis, a longstanding fixture in electronics and manufacturing test, and, more recently as a valuable tool for understanding coverage, interference, and other elements of Wi-Fi, is the art and science of extracting meaning and insight from wireless systems at Layer 1 -- radio waves.

Averail Access aces mobility management test

Enterprise mobility management (EMM) can encompass a broad range of functions, from managing mobile devices, to applications, expenses, personnel, and policies. But perhaps the most important aspect is mobile information/data/content management, tracking the distribution and usage of sensitive organizational data, as well as ensuring appropriate security and policy compliance.

Three-stream Wi-Fi hits the mark

The rapid adoption of 802.11n has become a significant milestone in the history of wireless LANs. The MIMO-based technologies used in most 802.11n systems provide enough throughput, reliability, and rate vs. range performance to effectively remove the last major barriers to the broad adoption of WLANs in the enterprise.

What you need to know about 802.11ac

A question we're hearing with increasing frequency concerns the upcoming 802.11ac standard, which promises to do to 802.11n what .11n did to .11g. While the IEEE 802.11ac standard likely won't be completely finished before the end of 2013, and, while the Wi-Fi Alliance similarly has issued no interoperability criteria for 802.11ac, consumer-grade products claiming compliance with the aforementioned 802.11ac standard could be on store shelves as soon as the middle of 2012.

Tips for buying a three-stream access point

The decision to buy a three-stream access point (or likely, a whole lot of these) in an enterprise environment is more complex than throughput alone. You need to begin with overall IT requirements, objectives, planning cycles, and operational strategies.

A note on nomenclature

Wireless LAN devices (access points and clients) supporting (up to) three spatial streams are often denoted as "3x3" devices, referring to the minimal number of transmitters and receivers required to make this particular configuration of MIMO work. But there is so much variability in terminology here that a standard nomenclature is required.

Tools for analyzing WLAN traffic abound

The value of capturing and analyzing network traffic is well established. After all, the generic "sniffer" has been a fixture of networking since the days of "datascopes" on RS-232 connections. Wireless links introduce a number of complicating elements to this process, however -- Wi-Fi protocols are unique at Layer 2, and traffic over the air isn't serialized, as is the case with wire. Simultaneous, competing traffic is often the norm.

E-Book Readers and the Single-Device Paradox

There is no doubt that all media is going digital. And while I think it will remain possible quite far into the future to curl up by the fire with a good book, it will be much more likely that it will be some form of electronic book reader that will be keeping you warm instead. If you've not seen these, think of them as .mp3 players for words and illustrations, and many can also play those .mp3s. A few examples of products available now include the Sony Reader Digital Book, Amazon's Kindle, and Hanlin's eReader.

What's wrong with mobile browsers?

OK, which is it? Running local applications on the handset/mobile device or relying on Web services? The answer, of course, is likely to be both.

WLAN Management Takes Center Stage

Aruba's announcement today that they are acquiring AirWave is of course interesting to anyone who follows the WLAN industry, but its significance extends far beyond WLANs alone. Management has traditionally been one of the less interesting aspects of networking, perhaps because so few people are actually involved in it on a day-to-day basis, and those folks tend to speak in obscure dialects and sit behind consoles in dimly lit rooms. But if the network is indeed the circulatory system of the enterprise, these guys are the ones who make sure the heart is within normal operating parameters, and all the arteries and veins are free of plaques and clots and otherwise working at peak efficiency. And, of course, these guys are only as good as the tools they build their solutions on. Management is to my way of thinking is in fact going to become the critical differentiator in networking (wireless and wired) as we move ahead. A solid management offering will be the part of a proposed solution that wins deals.

Why gateways are pivotal to the rest of the network

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the impact of wireless LAN system architecture on performance and why the debate on this issue won't be settled any time soon. This week I want to look at the impact of system and solution architecture on the success of wireless wide-area networks (WWANs).