Click here to close now.

Welcome!

MICROSERVICES Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Michael Kanasoot, Dana Gardner

Related Topics: Wireless, Java, MICROSERVICES, AJAX & REA, Web 2.0, Perl

Wireless: Article

Delivering Breakthrough Performance with 802.11ac

Breaking the wireless Ethernet gigabit barrier

Consumers are continuing to adopt multiple connected devices and video content is expected to reach more than 70 percent of global traffic. This growth and the increased reliance on wireless networks is putting stress on existing 802.11a/b/g/n networks. As a result of this high usage, users are likely to experience deteriorated performance, choppy videos and slower load times. At a time when IT managers report that network users are now averaging more than one Wi-Fi connected device per person, solutions to handle the rapid growth of devices are at a premium.

The next generation of the 802.11 standard, or IEEE 802.11ac, promises to finally break the wireless Ethernet gigabit barrier. This technology will deliver higher bandwidth while retaining better quality of experience (QoE) for end users, and is expected to be adopted rapidly into all markets: residential, enterprise, carrier and large venue.

Some of the first applications for 802.11ac's faster speeds will better residential video streaming, data syncing between mobile devices, and data backup. Streaming digital media between devices faster and simultaneously connecting more wireless devices will be some of the starting benefits for consumers and enterprises. In terms of service providers, they will be able to deploy the new technology to offload traffic from congested 3G and 4G-LTE cellular networks, and in dense operator hotspots 802.11ac will supply better performance to more users.

To date, all 802.11 revisions have focused on increasing transport speeds, which lead to higher traffic delivery rates and ultimately to faster response times as experienced by the end user. The introduction of 802.11n brought advances of MIMO (multiple-in, multiple-out) to deliver traffic over multiple spatial streams, and packet aggregation. MIMO delivered marked improvements in physical transport rates, enabling more bits per second to be transmitted than ever before over Wi-Fi. Packet aggregation delivered equally impressive improvements in transport experience, allowing devices to send more data once they had gained access to the wireless media. The new 802.11ac protocol is continuing down this path by preserving aggregation techniques, advancing the physical transport rates yet again, and introducing the concept of parallel transport into Wi-Fi through a technique known as Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO), where multiple client devices are receiving packets concurrently.

This is the first time Wi-Fi history that directed traffic can be delivered to multiple client devices at the same time. This ability has significant impact on delivery of content to any location with multiple users, especially where content is revenue-generating or critical.

Achieving Increased Gigabit+ Performance with 802.11ac
In order to reach the best performance, 802.11ac uses a variety of advancements and addresses the need for performance improvement through three primary initiatives:

  1. Increasing Raw Bandwidth allows for the higher speeds associated with 802.11ac. It makes use of a higher rate encoding scheme known as 256-QAM, which transmits 33 percent more data than the 64-QAM used in the 802.11n standard. Signal-to-noise ratios that worked for 802.11n are no longer sufficient because the difference in detectable signal level is now significantly smaller.
  2. Multi-user Support makes 802.11ac a real information superhighway, unlike its predecessors that only allowed one device to transmit at a time. MU-MIMO allows an access point to transmit data to multiple client devices on the same channel at the same time. It works by directing some of the spatial streams to one client and other spatial streams to a second client. MU-MIMO is critical to performance improvements in environments with high client counts.
  3. Individual Client Channel Optimization is also a major performance booster. The concept behind channel optimization is transmit beamforming (TxBF). The reflections and attenuations, common during the transmission of 802.11 signals, have a significant performance impact on overall network performance. With TxBF, the access point communicates with the client devices to determine the types of impairment that are present in the environment. Then the access point "precodes" the transmitted frame with the inverse of the impairment such that when the next frame is transmitted and transformed by the medium, it is received as a clean frame by the client. Since no two clients are in the same location, TxBF needs to be applied on a client-by-client basis and constantly updated to reflect the changing environment.

Overcoming Technical Challenges
One of the biggest frustration for developers and users of 802.11 is that it needs to work with previous versions. It can also be extremely difficult to identify the root cause of development problems. For example, when an application performs poorly, it is often hard to determine if it is due to an environmental, client, or network issue. The various devices in an 802.11 network are highly correlated so an issue in one area quickly ripples through to many other areas. Developers have lacked an effective means to assess the total picture from the RF to the application layer.

IEEE 802.11ac makes this problem significantly more challenging. In addition to being deployed into an existing environment with ten years' worth of previous releases, 802.11ac makes use of advanced technologies that are substantially more complex and demanding than previous versions. This latest generation of 802.11 requires a rethinking of how the technology is developed and tested to include a much more holistic view through the product development life cycle.

Traditionally, the RF section is verified using one set of equipment, and then the upper layer functions are tested using a second set of tools. The overall technical complexity and the introduction of new technologies such as TxBF demand coordination and control between the different layers of the protocol stack. Without this coordination, it would be difficult to utilize these functions and to quickly pinpoint performance issues.

802.11ac brings the promise of moving Wi-Fi into the limelight as a trusted and capable communication protocol, and will require equipment and rigor to match. The new generation of testing should be able to decode every frame in real-time and determine each frame's RF characteristics, as well as their frame-level performance, and generate every frame without limitation in real-time to adequately test receiver performance. Previous approaches use a digitized data record approach for both generation and analysis, creating or capturing what are known as I/Q files, and equipment typically adapted from the general-purpose RF domain. This result in equipment being capable of a single spatial stream, and able to generate or capture a small fraction of the frames required to perform testing. To meet the need, the approach needs to be able to generate and analyze all frames in real-time to the limit of the specification, tightly integrate RF and MAC functionality in 802.11ac, and include integral, real-time channel emulation to address TxBF performance.

Increasing Performance for All Markets
Gigabit+ performance for residential, enterprise, carrier and large venue markets is possible with the 802.11ac standard. But to realize the performance and density promise, chip and hardware developers must navigate some significant technical challenges, as detailed in this article. They must ensure graceful migrations from existing deployed solutions by providing backward compatibility and delivering high performance RF transmission and receive performance with a wide variety of signals. They must maintain high performance to multiple clients under the channel conditions that will exist in real deployments, while at the same time provide the high reliability and feature robustness to enable enterprise and carrier grade 802.11 adoption. Ultimately, the developers need to ensure that the key application traffic - most notably video - can be delivered with quality.

More Stories By Joe Zeto

Joe Zeto serves as a technical marketing evangelist within Ixia’s marketing organization. He has over 17 years of experience in wireless and IP networking, both from the engineering and marketing sides. He has extensive knowledge and a global prospective of the networking market and the test and measurement industry.

Prior to joining Ixia, Joe was Director of Product Marketing at Spirent Communications running Enterprise Switching, Storage Networking, and Wireless Infrastructure product lines. He has a Juris Docorate from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, CA.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborat...
Hosted PaaS providers have given independent developers and startups huge advantages in efficiency and reduced time-to-market over their more process-bound counterparts in enterprises. Software frameworks are now available that allow enterprise IT departments to provide these same advantages for developers in their own organization. In his workshop session at DevOps Summit, Troy Topnik, ActiveState’s Technical Product Manager, will show how on-prem or cloud-hosted Private PaaS can enable organ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Thi...
Cloud computing is changing the way we look at IT costs, according to industry experts on a recent Cloud Luminary Fireside Chat panel discussion. Enterprise IT, traditionally viewed as a cost center, now plays a central role in the delivery of software-driven goods and services. Therefore, companies need to understand their cloud utilization and resulting costs in order to ensure profitability on their business offerings. Led by Bernard Golden, this fireside chat offers valuable insights on ho...
Exelon Corporation employs technology and process improvements to optimize their IT operations, manage a merger and acquisition transition, and to bring outsourced IT operations back in-house. To learn more about how this leading energy provider in the US, with a family of companies having $23.5 billion in annual revenue, accomplishes these goals we're joined by Jason Thomas, Manager of Service, Asset and Release Management at Exelon. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal A...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and eas...
Modern Systems announced completion of a successful project with its new Rapid Program Modernization (eavRPMa"c) software. The eavRPMa"c technology architecturally transforms legacy applications, enabling faster feature development and reducing time-to-market for critical software updates. Working with Modern Systems, the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) leveraged eavRPMa"c to transform its Student Information System from Software AG's Natural syntax to a modern application lev...
SYS-CON Events announced today Sematext Group, Inc., a Brooklyn-based Performance Monitoring and Log Management solution provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting and anomaly detection (SPM), log management and analytics (Logsene), search analytics (S...
In the midst of the widespread popularity and adoption of cloud computing, it seems like everything is being offered “as a Service” these days: Infrastructure? Check. Platform? You bet. Software? Absolutely. Toaster? It’s only a matter of time. With service providers positioning vastly differing offerings under a generic “cloud” umbrella, it’s all too easy to get confused about what’s actually being offered. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Kevin Hazard, Director of Digital Content for SoftL...
When it comes to microservices there are myths and uncertainty about the journey ahead. Deploying a “Hello World” app on Docker is a long way from making microservices work in real enterprises with large applications, complex environments and existing organizational structures. February 19, 2015 10:00am PT / 1:00pm ET → 45 Minutes Join our four experts: Special host Gene Kim, Gary Gruver, Randy Shoup and XebiaLabs’ Andrew Phillips as they explore the realities of microservices in today’s IT worl...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on T...
SYS-CON Media announced that IBM, which offers the world’s deepest portfolio of technologies and expertise that are transforming the future of work, has launched ad campaigns on SYS-CON’s numerous online magazines such as Cloud Computing Journal, Virtualization Journal, SOA World Magazine, and IoT Journal. IBM’s campaigns focus on vendors in the technology marketplace, the future of testing, Big Data and analytics, and mobile platforms.
For those of us that have been practicing SOA for over a decade, it's surprising that there's so much interest in microservices. In fairness microservices don't look like the vendor play that was early SOA in the early noughties. But experienced SOA practitioners everywhere will be wondering if microservices is actually a good thing. You see microservices is basically an SOA pattern that inherits all the well-known SOA principles and adds characteristics that address the use of SOA for distribut...
Microservice architectures are the new hotness, even though they aren't really all that different (in principle) from the paradigm described by SOA (which is dead, or not dead, depending on whom you ask). One of the things this decompositional approach to application architecture does is encourage developers and operations (some might even say DevOps) to re-evaluate scaling strategies. In particular, the notion is forwarded that an application should be built to scale and then infrastructure sho...
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Ras...
Microservices are the result of decomposing applications. That may sound a lot like SOA, but SOA was based on an object-oriented (noun) premise; that is, services were built around an object - like a customer - with all the necessary operations (functions) that go along with it. SOA was also founded on a variety of standards (most of them coming out of OASIS) like SOAP, WSDL, XML and UDDI. Microservices have no standards (at least none deriving from a standards body or organization) and can be b...
Our guest on the podcast this week is Jason Bloomberg, President at Intellyx. When we build services we want them to be lightweight, stateless and scalable while doing one thing really well. In today's cloud world, we're revisiting what to takes to make a good service in the first place. Listen in to learn why following "the book" doesn't necessarily mean that you're solving key business problems.
Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...
Microservices, for the uninitiated, are essentially the decomposition of applications into multiple services. This decomposition is often based on functional lines, with related functions being grouped together into a service. While this may sound a like SOA, it really isn't, especially given that SOA was an object-centered methodology that focused on creating services around "nouns" like customer and product. Microservices, while certainly capable of being noun-based, are just as likely to be v...