Wireless Network Infrastructure
Pre-staging of the wireless network infrastructure began months before the event, at Cisco® headquarters in the San Jose building 17 Lab. Determining the placement of the network’s access points was a crucial aspect of the planning. The team used tested strategies, including directional antennas and designing for capacity over coverage. Members of the team made multiple trips to the site to survey and take precise RF measurements.
To implement the best-in-class, high-density deployment, it was necessary that the task force select the right WLAN infrastructure equipment. The final RF design was based on the wireless site surveys and factors such as small cell size RF propagation, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) degradation, RF gain, high capacity, and coverage. Figures 1 through 7 are examples of technology used to create the Cisco Live San Francisco Wi-Fi network.
Figures 1 through 7 include product images of a Cisco 8510 Wireless Controller (WLC); a Cisco Prime™ Infrastructure appliance; a Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE); Cisco Aironet® 3700 and 3600 Series Access Points; and Cisco Antenna.
Figures 1 - 3. Cisco 8510 Wireless Controller; Cisco Prime Infrastructure Appliance, and Cisco Mobility Services Engine (MSE)
Six Cisco 8510 Wireless Controllers provided high availability. Two Cisco Prime™ Infrastructure appliances (2.1 and 1.4.2) were used to manage, control, and monitor the wireless infrastructure. Six Cisco Mobility Services Engines were installed to acquire user analytics and locations.
Figures 4 - 5. Cisco Stadium Antenna and Cisco Aironet 3700 Series Access Point
At least 270 Cisco Aironet® 3702P Access Points with dedicated Cisco Stadium Antennas AIR-ANT2513P4M-N (13 dBi) were used to cover the keynote.
Figures 6 - 7. Cisco Aironet 3600 Series Access Point and Cisco Antenna
At least 294 Cisco Aironet 3702E and 166 Aironet 3602E Access Points with dedicated Cisco Patch Antennas AIRANT2566P4W‐R (six dBi) were installed to cover the hallways and session rooms. The infrastructure also comprised 99 Aironet 3702I and 89 Aironet 3602I Access Points to provide additional capacity in session rooms.
Wireless Network Optimization
A key requirement was to optimize Wi-Fi connectivity on both 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands. Besides following Cisco best practices to configure the controllers and access points, it was necessary to combine solid RF optimization techniques.
The primary mission of Cisco Live events is to inform customers about the latest and greatest innovations in Cisco technologies, either through sessions or a live network which speaks for itself. In Cisco Live San Francisco, Cisco used our latest 802.11ac wireless access points (AIR-CAP3702P-A-K9, AIR-CAP3702I-A-K9, and AIR-CAP3702E-A-K9) among the older generation of access points, which also showed the combination of 802.11ac and 802.11n in a high-density production network.
The access points with patch antennas were mounted 10 to 12 feet high on poles with a distance of 35 to 55 feet between each access point, aligned to the walls of the hallways and session rooms. This configuration forced the RF propagation at an angle of 60 degrees, focusing more RF energy in that particular area. This configuration eliminated bleeding of the wireless transmission in neighboring cells and allowed for optimized wireless communication.
Figures 8 and 9 depict a patch antenna at an angle of 60 degrees toward the ground, next to an example of a patch antenna deployment. RF is focused in different directions to optimize coverage and capacity.
Figures 8 - 9. Patch Antenna and Deployment Example
The Keynote Conference Hall was equipped with access points and stadium antennas mounted on a 27-feet-high ceiling, focusing RF at a 30-degree angle in micro-cell size to allow for maximum connectivity and performance in the user-dense environment. The entire wireless network supported both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic communications. IPv6 was passed over IPv4 to curb IPv6 traffic and reduce wireless network overhead. For maximum efficiency, six Cisco 8510 Wireless Controllers were used in high availability with access point and client Single Sign-On (SSO) configuration to control and manage the 930 access points.
Radio resource management (RRM) was enabled on the controllers to automatically adjust the power and channel assignments across all access points, which allowed better frequency reuse through micro-cells. All 5-GHz channels were running on 20-MHz frequency, providing a total of eight channels to optimize for non-overlapping channels in the high-density environment.
Also, 40 MHz was enabled for the session rooms and hallways to provide the best connection rate possible.
All wireless users were aggregated on a single/16 subnet to allow for roaming between the different locations and network management traffic on deferent/21 subnets. Additional management traffic overhead was eliminated by broadcasting only a single SSID - “Ciscolive2014” - across the entire event.
Wireless Network Architecture
Figure 10 illustrates the wireless network architecture model employed at the show.
Figure 10. Wireless Network Architecture Model
Access points were distributed among the tree WLAN controllers to give each one a primary, secondary, and tertiary controller failover connection. Access points on each floor were configured to join the same controller, and failover links were distributed to controllers on another floor. This configuration allowed an N+1 high-availability architecture for the wireless network. The example in Figure 11 shows the failover route in case the access point CAPWAP connection disconnects from the primary controller.
Figure 11. Example of Failover Network Distribution
Wireless Network Statistics
Notable data from the 2014 Cisco Live San Francisco network:
● Total Internet traffic volume - 22478.456 Gb
● Over 29,861 unique Wi-Fi devices logged onto the network
● Over 50 percent of the Wi-Fi devices on the network were Apple devices, generating more than 50 percent of traffic
● Nearly a 60/40 distribution percentage ratio of 5-GHz and 2.4-GHz wireless devices
● Nearly a 20/80 distribution percentage ratio of 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz wireless traffic
● Peak average channel utilization of 2.4 GHz was 85 percent and 5 GHz was 50 percent
● More than 2,578,153 DHCP requests were sent, and 19,494 maximum active DHCP leases
● More than 133,126,374 DNS lookups were handled by the onsite DNS server
● Reliability of the entire network was better than 99.999 percent with zero percent downtime
Figure 12 highlights total Internet traffic usage at the event.
Figure 12. Cisco Live Internet Traffic
Figure 13 reveals event statistics.
Figure 13. Cisco Live Event Statistics
Wireless Clients Statistics
Figure 14 reveals that:
● IPv4 clients totaled 13,301 and IPv6 clients totaled 24
● IPv6 was enabled in all areas of the venue
● An IPv6-only SSID was created for IPv6 session rooms for user experience on wireless
Figure 14. Clients by IP Address Type
Figure 15 highlights the total clients’ association. The peak maximum number of concurrent client associations was over 14,216.
Figure 15. Client Associations
Over the years, the number of 5-GHz wireless clients has grown significantly, and now with 802.11ac users are adopting new technologies very quickly. Figures 16 through 20 below reveal the number of clients and the traffic by protocol and vendor.
Figures 16 - 20. Clients and Traffic by Protocol and Vendor
This year Cisco also enabled application visibility on the wireless LAN controllers. Figure 21 highlights a screen shot of actual WLAN application statistics from the show.
Figure 21. WLAN Application Statistics
Cisco Connected Mobile Experience (CMX) Analytics
Cisco CMX Analytics was the star of the show this year in San Francisco. Two virtual Cisco Mobility Services Engines (VMSEs) were configured with CAS and Analytics for the Cisco Live network. One VMSE was configured for CAS and the second was configured for Analytics only, receiving its CAS services from the CAS VMSE. Onsite customer meetings, network operations center (NOC) customer visits, and enterprise booth demos showed a live feed of the network. Visitors had nothing good feedback on what they are seeing from the analytics. Primarily retail and hospitality customers loved the zone-level analytics, which Cisco had configured for every floor, session room, and the Cisco booths in World of Solutions area.
Figure 22 is a screen capture view of the CMX Analytics dashboard.
Figure 22. CMX Analytics Dashboard
Every floor, session room, and Cisco booth were configured as zone for analytics. Figure 23 provides an illustration of device count analytics per zone.
Figure 23. Device Count Analytics per Zone
Figure 24 highlights the most popular paths taken by visitors.
Figure 24. Popular Visitor Paths
Figure 25 reveals the visits distribution and Figure 26 shows the dwell time distribution. Figure 27 an image of the Analytics heat map.
Figure 25. Visits Distribution
Figure 26. Dwell Time Distribution
Figure 27. Analytics Heat Map
From the beginning, user experience was the most important part of the wireless network at Cisco Live. Cisco IT took great pains to ensure the best possible connectivity and performance, starting months before the show with initial site surveys and Wi-Fi designs, and finishing with the post-deployment site survey. Staff faced a new set of challenges in extending Wi-Fi coverage into the World of Solutions and keynote environments.
Even with the extensive preparation, the real test of the network’s performance could only be proven once all the attendees were present. Looking at logs and metrics tell only part of the story. For instance, total Internet traffic volume for the show was 22.4 TB - a Cisco Live record and the most traffic the locally selected Internet service provider had ever seen at a tradeshow in the city of San Francisco. Based on this data, Cisco IT realized that the wireless network was performing well. Once the customer feedback and true numbers were received, IT was able to confirm that Cisco Live 2014 had set a new bar for user satisfaction under the most extreme loads.