Month: February 2018

WLPC 2018

My second Wi-Fi specific conference is officially over.  I am at a loss for words.

During the final day’s presentation, Lee Badman (@wirednot) was talking about blogging and how you need to present your own view on something, especially when there are going to multiple people blogging on the same topic.  Since I am pretty sure that EVERY first time attendee to the Wireless LAN Professionals Conference, or #WLPC is going to have the EXACT same response, Lee is going to have to give us a pass on this one.  Maybe next year I will be able to come up with something original to blog about, but I’m not right brain enough to be that original, especially after 6 days of nothing but Wi-Fi.  Special shout out to Keith Parsons and all of his crew for making this happen.

To try and come up with a different format, I’m just going to make a list and then sit back and try and process.

  1. I arrived on Friday night before the start of the conference and immediately upon arrival at the hotel, I was standing behind the great Jussi Kiviniemi (@JussiKiviniemi) as he checked in to his room.  He gave me his cookie, I was awe struck and giddy like a little school girl.  This must be what normal people feel like when meeting celebrities.
  2. I took Peter MacKenzie’s (@mackenziWiFi) CWAP class.  That dude lives in the matrix and comes out every once in a while to teach.  During our class he captured a device that roamed between 2 AP’s and did prior coordination before the move over the air, and then when it moved back the coordination was over the wire.  He was like a kid at Christmas and it was AMAZING to watch how happy he got!
  3. Day One of the conference was overwhelming with that many really, REALLY good Wi-Fi guys in one room.  I was immediately humbled to even be in the room.
  4. Charlotte Galamb (#Charlotteneedsatwitteraccount) learned to never dare a Wi-Fi guy to make a fool out of themselves merely to get some swag.  Granted I made a fool out of myself by standing up in the middle if Jussi’s presentation and yelling her name when it was dead silent in the room, but I got my patch!  #Charlotteneedsatwitteraccount is now @WiFiCharlotte so I guess she learned.
  5. Again, Jussi Kiviniemi is a rockstar.  Multiple slides about Nickolas Cage on a pillowcase is not something many can make up.  If you missed it, there is simply no way to
  6. Being able to sit at lunch and then at dinner with some smart folks and talk Wi-Fi is something you don’t get at many other conferences, Wi-Fi Trek being the exception. It’s fun to just dive in and not have to explain yourself to route/switch guys who have no clue.
  7. Day Two – I definitely DIDN’T present on the morning of day 2.  If I had, I would have been able to drop some amazing numbers on the room in a short amount of time and make them think about things.
  8. I’ll be honest, I forgot most of the rest of the morning because I was studying.
  9. Took, and passed, my CWAP exam right before lunch.  That test is a bear, and I am also worried about my next test, CWSP.  Maybe I’ll worry about that after my brain settles down.
  10. So many deep dives but only could choose one.  I know I chose well with the deep dive on WLAN testing, and the amount of work that was put in by Jerry Olla (@jolla) and Scott McDermott (@scottm32768) was impressive.  I can’t wait to try out everything we covered.
  11. Whiskey & Wireless podcast the night of Day Two was eye opening.  There was a decent size room of people that sat and listened about Wi-Fi for 3 hours while drinking.  That is dedication my friends!
  12. Talking to some really smart people outside of the podcast for what felt like an hour was AWESOME!  The camaraderie and willingness to help is something that I have not found anywhere else.  Want to know why this is now the highlight of my year?  That time defines it!
  13. I want to get my CWNE, by the real goal in life is now the CWJA.  No question.
  14. Ferney Munoz (@Ferney_Munoz) is a bulldog and I am mighty impressed after watching him work, and present.  If you don’t follow him, you should.
  15. Lee Badman (@wirednot) received CWJA #7 and the Wi-Fi person of the year.  Between that and his presentation on blogging, he is just one more example of why I love this community.
  16. Glenn Cate (@grcate) has proven to be a great mentor that has continued since Wi-Fi Trek in Orlando.  He has always been there propping me up and maybe dressing up in PPE during his presentation took some embarrassment off of my “Charlotte” stunt from Day 1.  Thanks for everything Glenn!

I can’t wrap up my first WLPC without a special mention.  On Monday night, I met up some guys in the bar at the hotel.  Standing there was some lanky dude who didn’t say much at first.  When he did speak I was a little surprised with the accent.  I was then introduced to Nate York.  Over the course of 3 days I was blown away with his knowledge, his expertise, his humility, and his humor.  I might not get my CWNE for a while, I may never get a CWJA, but associating with people like Nate makes me want to be a better Wi-Fi engineer and a better person.

What else can you ask for from a conference?

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Understanding the Full Data Path – Management Version

Disclaimer – This is not an educational post, this is a straight up rant!

Recently there was something running around Twitter about understanding the full data path.  We (me and the people I work with) unfortunately found out more about this than we ever wanted to on a Friday night a few years ago when we inadvertently looped LAN and WAN traffic from the Wi-Fi system over the same uplink.  It was a 1 Gig uplink and at one point we hit like 990 Mbps, on a 5 minute average.  We quickly learned what it meant to understand the full data path.  Now days I really pay attention to that stuff which brings me to today’s rant.

In my current position I work for an enterprise.  We do all the Wi-Fi work in house and reference a VAR for equipment.  Currently we are working on standing up a brand new ISE deployment along with implementing Cisco wIPS/wIDS, all at the same time.  Now I understand some of the data path, and am quickly learning the entire data path when it comes to standing up our first true 802.1x service.  The problem lies in the fact that no one else knows, or cares.

SNMP and syslog not the same thing?  That’s a Wi-Fi problem.

Authentication packet not reaching the RADIUS server?  That’s a Wi-Fi problem.

RADIUS not responding to authentication requests?  That’s still a Wi-Fi problem.

RADIUS and AD not playing nicely? That HAS to be a Wi-Fi problem.

wIPS alarms are confusing?  That’s a Wi-Fi problem.

These are all issues that have come up in the past 7 calendar days!  My problem is the management data path.  Since I am “only” the Wi-Fi guy, I don’t need access to ISE.  Since I am only the Wi-Fi guy, I don’t need access to the firewalls.  Since I am only the Wi-Fi guy I don’t know what any networking stuff is (although, the title of my blog might actually not be in my favor for this point) so no one listens to me.  Since I am only the Wi-Fi guy I don’t know what any wIPS alarm means or if we should care about it.

Sadly, this is my management that is part of the problem.  Simply knowing the full data path and understanding almost everything about it simply isn’t enough anymore.  The ability to argue your case before management as to why the full data path is important, and why being the person, or group, that is going to be blamed for any failures requires you access to all the obstacles in the data path, is paramount to being able to not only deliver, but to maintain, a service.

In my environment, my “Full Data Path” unfortunately involves management.  Just like navigating a firewall or ACL’s or other known networking “challenges”, navigating management can sometimes be more challenging that convincing a firewall administrator that yes, they are actually dropping traffic.

I’m fine if Wi-Fi is going to get blamed for everything, just give me the ability to access everything that will mess up.  Don’t immediately point to the Wi-Fi and then handcuff the Wi-Fi professional by not allowing them access to the full data path.

Simply knowing the path isn’t enough any longer.  The ability to examine the data path and correct issues HAS to be the next frontier.  Don’t worry, extra time will be added to your day to accomplish these new tasks.  Just ask management, they know all about this!