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Wi-Fi 6 to spur industry confidence in Wi-Fi, report says

In networking news, a report shows increased confidence in Wi-Fi; Ciena releases an analytics-as-a-service product; and Avi Networks targets multi-cloud load balancing.

Several factors are contributing to the continued growth and confidence in Wi-Fi. Namely, the industry has seen increasing volumes of Wi-Fi devices and traffic, as well as wider adoption of hotspot technology for improved network access. Additionally, the market has seen increasing confidence around the commercial deployment and specification of the next-generation technology Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax.   

These findings -- from the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) Annual Industry Report for 2019 -- highlight the evolution of Wi-Fi, which is also spanning into new areas, such as 5G and IoT use cases. The global study surveyed 184 respondents, including service providers and operators and equipment and IT vendors. According to this year's study, 51% of respondents reported increased confidence in Wi-Fi investment, and 33% said they were as confident as last year.

The report predicted the mainstream growth of Wi-Fi Passpoint roaming, which looks to streamline network access in hotspots. Also, according to the report, expect to see the continued growth of IoT roaming; the use of fixed wireless access, rather than fiber, to push millimeter-wave adoption with WiGig in the 60 GHz band; and the coexistence and integration of Wi-Fi 6 with other licensed technologies. 

The WBA said 5G won't affect Wi-Fi 6's prominence. Instead, operators will embrace Wi-Fi 6 to establish stronger convergence that should increase the efficiency of wireless networks. According to the report, wireless industry insiders highlighted the most important Wi-Fi 6 features, including orthogonal frequency division multiple access uplink and downlink, self-optimizing capability, peak speed and flexible channel sizes. Wi-Fi 6 is expected to be finalized in late 2019. 

Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) and Passpoint saw heightened adoption in 2018, as AT&T committed to the technology. More adoption is expected, as 29% of respondents said they already deploy NGH and Passpoint, and 51% plan to deploy the technology in the future.

Ciena releases cloud-based analytics service

Ciena announced this week a cloud-based analytics-as-a-service product, called Ciena Insights Service. The new service looks to help network providers translate network performance data into actionable insights. Ciena Insights Service features a team of collaborative data scientists, services and network infrastructure experts, as well as AI and machine learning software capabilities.

The service consolidates a range of analytics capabilities into a single, multi-tiered service, with a focus on network flexibility. Offered through a subscription-based model, the service is available in three tiers, including the following: 

  • Discover offers network operations personnel more visibility into network assets, service availability, network health and risk areas.
  • Analyze uses machine learning to process trend information to create actionable insights for network optimization.
  • Predict looks to help network operators stop issues before they occur to prevent customer churn or costly outages and determine the best direction for optimizing the network to improve network availability.

Ciena Insights Service adds to Ciena's existing portfolio of consulting and networking services. The service aims to optimize Ciena-powered packet-optical networks, as well as networks with third-party transport equipment. Ciena Insights Service integrates with Ciena's Blue Planet Analytics, which is deployed as on-premises software to enable closed-loop, multidomain automation.

Avi Networks launches multi-cloud SaaS product

Avi Networks launched this week a software-as-a-service product for multi-cloud load balancing. The product, called Avi SaaS, offers cloud-managed software to deliver application services, including load balancing, web application firewall, global server load balancing and service mesh for containers across a multi-cloud environment. 

Avi SaaS aims to overcome the limitations of appliance-based application delivery controllers, which are not designed for the public cloud, and it combines the deployment of cloud-provider services and enterprise-grade features across multiple environments.

This service integrates with the Avi Vantage Platform by offering the Avi Controller as a cloud-managed service. Avi's SaaS model provisions load balancers and monitors application performance in real time. The vendor's central control plane is provisioned and managed for customers by Avi, with the Avi Service Engines, or distributed load balancers, deployed close to applications that enterprises own.

Avi SaaS is available now for sign-up, and customers can select regions where their controllers are hosted to fit their delivery and resilience requirements. They can also elect for isolated instances to meet security and compliance policies.

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