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Wireless LANS in the 21st Century

Jayshree Ullal
by Jayshree Ullal on Oct 6, 2021 6:00:00 AM

The power and potential of the next generation cognitive campus are transformative as the industry undergoes a massive transition to hybrid work in the post-pandemic era. A key underpinning to successful campus networking deployments has been our very first acquisition of Mojo Networks for cognitive Wi-Fi. Arista’s entry into wireless is only in its third year, yet the advances in this space will be profound over the next decade.

Prior Decades of Wi-Fi Performance

Wi-Fi or IEEE 802.11 as a wireless LAN (WLAN) has evolved from a “nice to have” option to more mainstream access for the campus. Wired and wireless are becoming ubiquitous and equal citizens as the throughput of wireless LANs increases from megabits to gigabits. From low data rates with the introduction of 802.11b and 802.11a in 1999 that were still behind wired data rates with virtually almost no client devices (laptops) that had Wi-Fi adapters to the Wi-Fi evolution, rapidly moving to 802.11g and encouraging wider use not only at home but also in the offices with data rates up to 54 Mbps supporting basic consumer and enterprise applications like email and web browsing. The 802.11n standard followed in 2009, as a real change. It supported 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies with data rates up to 600 Mbps and it also brought new antenna technology (MIMO) and many other features that turned the previous destructive behaviors of RF into constructive (multipath for example). In the 2010 era the widespread use of mobile iPhones made wireless a de facto requirement.

Optional to Mainstream Wi-Fi

Clearly wireless LAN access has become mainstream in enterprise networks. In the 2020 era 802.11ax delivers 2.4 GHz frequency range and opens the future use of 6 GHz spectrum. Wi-Fi 6 stands for 802.11ax in 2.4 and 5 GHz ranges and Wi-Fi 6E stands for 802.11ax in all three bands. Clearly the introduction of up to 1200 MHz of the new spectrum space, Wi-Fi 6E represents the biggest change in a decade. Combined with cognitive software, Arista Wi-Fi brings plug and play automation, AI/ML based troubleshooting and security to the access points for holistic network assurance. This cloud-based, controller-less architecture with Arista’s Wi-Fi6E improves scale to millions of APs and brings cognitive value as shown in the figure below:


Cognitive Wi-Fi in the Post-Pandemic Era

Arista’s cognitive architecture optimizes user experience, facilitates network and application performance monitoring and remediation while securing and monitoring campus airwaves. The powerful cognitive Wi-Fi platform delivers client journey analysis, integrated WIPS at 6Ghz range, network assurance for software upgrades or post-deployment validation and improved Quality of Experience (QoE). In addition, one can now monitor collaboration of Zoom, Teams and Google Hangouts and prioritize applications with P-Tracer as well as tracking post pandemic relevance with contact-tracing features to re-create the association of a user.

Summary: From Airwaves to Cognitive Experience

Arista’s latest introduction of the cognitive Wi-Fi 6E platform exemplifies our commitment to performance and cognitive architecture for the wireless campus. These client to cloud predictive tools extend airwaves to network services for prescriptive experiences. Arista is now delivering cloud principles to the wireless campus by holistically breaking down the artificial divide between LAN and WAN to deliver uncompromised PIC networking. Welcome to the new world of cognitive campus networking in the post pandemic era!


Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of Arista Networks. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Arista Networks or any other party.

Jayshree Ullal
Written by Jayshree Ullal
As CEO and Chairperson of Arista, Jayshree Ullal is responsible for Arista's business and thought leadership in AI and cloud networking. She led the company to a historic and successful IPO in June 2014 from zero to a multibillion-dollar business. Formerly Jayshree was Senior Vice President at Cisco, responsible for a $10B business in datacenter, switching and services. With more than 40 years of networking experience, she is the recipient of numerous awards including E&Y's "Entrepreneur of the Year" in 2015, Barron's "World's Best CEOs" in 2018 and one of Fortune's "Top 20 Business persons" in 2019. Jayshree holds a B.S. in Engineering (Electrical) and an M.S. degree in engineering management. She is a recipient of the SFSU and SCU Distinguished Alumni Awards in 2013 and 2016.

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