Cisco Compatible Extensions

Cisco Compatible Extensions Program Brochure

This document describes the Cisco Compatible Extensions Program and its benefits.

Challenge

The WLAN market has grown exponentially as more users demand mobility in and out of the office. Numerous client devices have been introduced to meet the challenges of device mobility; these devices must interoperate securely with leading WLAN infrastructure and must consistently provide the features that organizations require.

Solution

With the Cisco® Compatible Extensions program, WLAN client suppliers (the program’s participants) license, at no charge, Cisco WLAN technology innovations in a specification. Participants implement all elements of the specification and undergo extensive testing at an independent third-party test lab. The testing helps to ensure support for innovative features pioneered by Cisco, as well as interoperability with Cisco WLAN infrastructure products.

Look for the Cisco Compatible Logo

The Cisco Compatible Extensions program helps to ensure that client devices from a variety of suppliers will work with Cisco-based WLANs. To make it easy to find these devices, Cisco has licensed the Cisco Compatible logo (Figure 1) for use by participants whose products pass all tests at the independent third-party test lab. Locating approved wireless devices is as easy as looking for the logo. Review a complete listing of products that have earned the Cisco Compatible designation.

Figure 1 - The Cisco Compatible Logo


Cisco Compatible Continued Development

Through the Cisco Compatible Extensions program, Cisco shows its commitment to leading innovation and providing pre-standard features to fulfill customer requirements. Cisco enables its partners to provide software upgrades for Cisco Compatible mobile devices to ensure that there is a migration path to future industry standards and to Cisco Aironet® infrastructure features. Migration from different versions of the Cisco Compatible Extensions program is simply and easily implemented. Cisco will continue to develop future Cisco Compatible features and work with industry-leading partners to empower customers with mobility solutions to solve business challenges, today and in the future.

WLAN Adapters and Client Devices

The Cisco Compatible Extensions program for WLAN devices helps to proliferate WLAN innovations to many different WLAN client adapter form factors and client devices while maintaining interoperability.

Intel, a strategic alliance partner and lead collaborator, has achieved Cisco Compatible status for its Centrino Mobile Technology, which is available in many notebook computers. Major notebook suppliers, including Acer, Dell, Fujitsu, IBM, HP, and Toshiba, provide Cisco Compatible notebooks.

Cisco is working closely with suppliers of mobile computing devices, such as PDAs, that have less processing power than notebooks and run fewer applications. Such devices are classified as application-specific devices (ASDs). The requirements for Cisco Compatible ASDs are a subset of the requirements for Cisco Compatible notebooks, described in the next section.

Versions and Features

There are four versions of the Cisco Compatible specification; each version builds upon its predecessors. With a few exceptions, every feature that must be supported in one version also must be supported in each subsequent version.

Features of Cisco Compatible V1 include:

  • Compliance with IEEE 802.11 and Wi-Fi
  • Support for the 802.1X authentication type: Cisco LEAP
  • Ability to interoperate with an access point that supports multiple Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs) tied to multiple VLANs, providing benefits such as flexible security schemes in a mixed client environment

Features of Cisco Compatible V2 include:

  • Compliance with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), including support for WPA Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) encryption
  • Support for the 802.1X authentication type: Protected EAP (PEAP) with EAP-GTC
  • Fast, secure roaming through support of the 802.1X key management protocol: Cisco Centralized Key Management (CCKM)
  • Radio frequency (RF) scanning, with scanned data sent to the access point and ultimately to CiscoWorks Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE) for analysis and performance of RF management functions such as intrusion detection, assisted site survey, and detection of interference sources

Features of Cisco Compatible V3 include:

  • Compliance with WPA 2, including support for Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption
  • Support for the 802.1X authentication type: EAP-FAST
  • Support for Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM), a subset of the IEEE 802.11e quality of service (QoS) standard defined by the Wi-Fi Alliance

Features of Cisco Compatible V4 include:

  • Support of Cisco Network Admission Control
  • Call admission control – addressing voice over IP (VoIP) stability, roaming, and other QoSrelated issues
  • Support for a power-saving mechanism, U-APSD, in QoS environments
  • VoIP metrics for reporting to optimize WLAN VoIP performance
  • Enhanced roaming
  • Ability to function as an 802.11 location tag

Review the list of main features in each Cisco Compatible version, along with detailed descriptions of features.

Business Benefits

The Cisco Compatible Extensions program helps ensure that a broad range of WLAN client devices interoperate with and support innovative features of Cisco WLAN infrastructure products. As a result, IT managers can deploy WLANs confidently, even when those WLANs serve a variety of client devices. The Cisco Compatible Extensions program for WLAN devices:

  • Provides tested compatibility with licensed Cisco infrastructure innovations
  • Accelerates the availability of innovative features while maintaining interoperability through wireless standards
  • Enables widespread availability of wireless devices that interoperate with Cisco WLAN infrastructure products

Architecture

Cisco Compatible Extensions program clients play an important part in the Cisco Unified Wireless Network. Many of the features available in the Cisco Unified Wireless Network provide exclusive benefits to Cisco Compatible clients. These features enable the clients to collect and report information about the RF environment. Some of the areas of client participation in the Cisco Unified Wireless Network include:

  • Rogue access point detection and location
  • Air/RF scanning and monitoring
  • Interference detection to isolate and locate network interference
  • Simplified WLAN deployment processes with assisted site surveys
  • Streamlined WLAN management and operations support
  • High availability with self-healing WLANs

Cisco Compatible and Cisco Aironet Client Devices

Cisco Compatible client devices or Cisco Aironet client devices are strongly recommended for the Cisco Unified Wireless Network. More than 90 percent of shipping client devices are certified as Cisco Compatible; almost any client device that is selected will support Cisco’s powerful advanced features.

By providing third-party tested compatibility, the Cisco Compatible Extensions program helps to ensure the widespread availability of client devices from a variety of suppliers that are interoperable with a Cisco WLAN infrastructure. More than 350 wireless devices are Cisco Compatible today, with more being added all the time. More than 90 percent of today’s notebooks are Cisco Compatible.

Cisco provides pre-standard features through the Cisco Compatible Extensions program to fulfill customers’ diverse enterprise application requirements. Cisco enables its partners to provide software upgrades for Cisco Compatible mobile devices to help ensure investment protection and a migration path to future industry standards and to future Cisco WLAN infrastructure features. IT managers can confidently deploy their WLANs, even if they serve different client device types, when Cisco Compatible client devices are used.

No other WLAN vendor enables its customers to confidently deploy next-generation robust, scalable, secure, and manageable solutions. With the Cisco Compatible Extensions program, Cisco is able to deliver next-generation WLAN features—today.

The Cisco Unified Wireless Network also supports Wi-Fi-certified or IEEE 802.11 clients, but Cisco Compatible or Cisco Aironet client devices are recommended for their innovative, advanced Ciscoverified features.

Figure 2 provides a detailed overview of the Cisco Unified Wireless Network and highlights the interaction of Cisco Compatible devices in the participation and collection of important wireless information used to increase performance, scalability, security, and management of the wireless network.

Figure 2 - Cisco Unified Wireless Network Elements Work Together to Deliver a Unified Business-Class Wireless Solution

Supporting Products and Partners

Review the listing of all the products that are approved in the Cisco Compatible Extensions program.

Why Cisco

As new next-generation WLAN features are ratified, they will be added to the program.

Cisco Aironet infrastructure products deliver enhanced client features and services that are required for next-generation WLANs. Through partnerships with leading WLAN device vendors, Cisco Compatible device availability can be assured: more than 350 wireless devices are certified and available today. No other WLAN vendor has the ability to take advantage of tomorrow’s enhancements today providing the ability to confidently deploy robust, scalable, secure, and manageable solutions.

For More Information

For more information about the Cisco Compatible Extensions program, contact your local account representative or visit:

www.cisco.com/go/ciscocompatible/wireless