Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Miercom Proves: Cisco versus Huawei is No Contest

The three tests I want to focus on are:

1. Multi-Client, Multi-AP RRM Test
2. Voice and Video over Wi-Fi Test
3. Dataplane Encryption Test

Before I get to the tests, we need to determine what wireless products were tested. For Cisco it was the high end Aironet 2802i with CT5520 wireless LAN controller.  For Huawei, their flagship 7050DE with their AC6605 WLC.  Both access points are 802.11ac Wave 2.

Enterprise Networks, Wireless Controller, wi-fi, Access Points

Let’s take a look at the tests.


Multi-Client, Multi-AP RRM Test


This test is multi-faceted.  The basic premise is, six access points were setup in an office building, with 180 clients connected to the network. Several criteria were evaluated:

◉ Evaluate auto radio resource management capabilities of the system
◉ How well do clients load-balance between the access points?
◉ What is the overall performance of the system?

Both vendors chose appropriate channel plans.  Overall, Huawei had higher and more uneven transmit power, which had an impact how the clients connected amongst the access points.  The Aironet 2800 had a flexible radio allowing RRM to calculate when there is redundant 2.4 GHz coverage.  The system identified two access points out of the six with redundant coverage, and flopped those two redundant flexible radios into 5 GHz client serving mode.

Access Point Transmit Power:

Enterprise Networks, Wireless Controller, wi-fi, Access Points

Why is transmit power important? It’s simple. Transmit power affects how the clients hear the network, which in turn impacts the client balancing between the APs. This is true even when load-balancing techniques are used.  When the signal is too high, clients can be sticky and connect to a non optimal access point.

Client Distribution:

Enterprise Networks, Wireless Controller, wi-fi, Access Points

The last portion of the test was to check the system performance.  On average, Cisco performed 40% better than Huawei in Dual-5 GHz mode (two APs in Dual-5), and 18% better in Dual-Band mode.  The report shows, Huawei also had several clients which did not receive any throughput in the test.

Enterprise Networks, Wireless Controller, wi-fi, Access Points

Here’s information about the test layout and clients used in the test: a mix of laptops and tablets were used, in addition to 11n, 11ac wave 1, and 11ac wave 2 clients.

Test layout:

Enterprise Networks, Wireless Controller, wi-fi, Access Points

Client types:

Enterprise Networks, Wireless Controller, wi-fi, Access Points

Voice and Video over Wi-Fi Test


For the next test, the purpose is to see how many Jabber video calls can be supported with background traffic.

The short answer?  Based on Miercom’s test results, Cisco supported 18 with 30 Mbps background traffic.  Huawei supported 11 concurrent calls with 18 Mbps of background traffic.

The more detailed version: clients were setup in a cubicle office environment spread out over about 2000 square feet and connected to the 5 GHz radio on an access point.  Tests were done in increments of five clients to find the breaking point, while simultaneously transferring a 10GB file via FTP.

Test overview:

Enterprise Networks, Wireless Controller, wi-fi, Access Points

Dataplane Encryption Test


The dataplane encryption test checked the encryption capabilities of data traffic between the access point and the WLC.  Cisco supports encryption in hardware on the access point, so the performance impact of enabling encryption was negligible.  On the other hand, as Miercom points out, Huawei only supports encryption in software, so performance dropped by over 90% with encryption enabled.

Enterprise Networks, Wireless Controller, wi-fi, Access Points

Check back to the blog over the coming weeks.  We’ll have other installments which go through the rest of the report in detail.

Download full report here.

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