Using AI to Make Wi-Fi Predictable, Reliable, and Measurable

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is progressing rapidly. And although it is still in its early stages according to the Gartner Hype Cycle, there are some initial breakthroughs which have led to a lot of talk in the industry about its future use and wide-scale application.

For the networking space, AI is defining the next generation of wireless networks which are already being created and applied in digital enterprise. Using AI as an underlying technology to build Wi-Fi networks makes the new system more predictable, reliable and measurable.

In a previous webinar, ONUG’s Nick Lippis along with Mamta Sodikumar, Product Manager from Verizon, and Jeff Aaron, VP of Marketing from Mist, discussed the recent developments in AI and its positive impact on the wireless networking space.

Here’s a quick summary of how AI is going to re-define the networking space and influence the digital transformation of the business landscape according to these three experts.

The Need for a New Network in the Age of Digital Transformation

Today, digital business is driving IT digital transformation. The need for companies to adapt to this new change in technology is advancing the development of new software building blocks. In turn, this is re-shaping the skills and organization design necessary to fundamentally exploit new digital technologies to propel companies into the digital economy successfully.

When it comes to digital transformation, the underpinning technologies are hybrid and multi-cloud, which includes the wireless space and software-defined Wi-Fi area. The need for these new systems became apparent in 2007/2008 when the first iPhone was released, and Amazon offered its cloud service.

As Nick Lippis puts it: “That changed the industry and set us on a new trajectory where the barriers of IT have come crashing down.” For example, a company no longer needs to have their data center to build its applications; it can just turn to a cloud provider.

As IT barriers came down, digital revenue opportunities rose, which has enabled companies like Netflix to thrive in the new digital economy and overpower established rivals like HBO.

So how can a company use these new tools to stitch together the software-defined building blocks into a digital solution that works? One of the things many companies are looking at is automation via AI.

Managed Software Defined Wireless LAN Network

Following a multi-year software-defined network (SDN) journey, Verizon has recently released a new SD-LAN to address the recent trends in digital transformation. Gradually, Verizon could offer a managed WiFi system and move customers from SD-WAN to a new SD solution to fully scale SDN deployment via increased visibility, programmability and management.

Unlike traditional W-LAN services that use controller-based architecture to manage access points, the new system integrates native AI and machine learning algorithm to offer a virtualized location-based service on the same platform. Using Mist as an underlying platform, Verizon can deliver an end-to-end solution for a better mobile experience, faster provisioning of services and near real-time tracking.

With the Mist cloud controller, Verizon can integrate its management and monitoring tool to control data usage for improved scalability, while at the same time extending the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) engagement. And according to Mamta Sodikumar, “This has allowed for two key areas of improvement. One is faster response time[…], the second, it improves network performance.”

The Modern Wireless Network

Wi-Fi networks are becoming more business critical as companies move towards Wi-Fi first policies to tackle the digital transformation. However, most companies lag the infrastructure required to achieve the change, since most of the architecture was built before 2007 – iPhones, Clouds, and modern GMUs.

Mist seized the opportunity to create the first AI driven wireless LAN. The system relies on two key features that allow it to materialize by using the underlying AI engine to build the new AI-driven wireless network. And this AI-driven wireless offers many new features that solve current problems facing traditional systems:

  • Measurable user service levels
  • Automated event correlation and dPCAP
  • Virtual Network Assistant (VNA)
  • Modern cloud with microservices
  • Personalized location services

Mist Learning WLAN uses various access point models that combine Wi-Fi, BLE, and IoT but manage it fully via the cloud. Together with Mist’s Marvis AI, this allows users actionable insight, high accuracy of location, dynamic packet capture and predictive recommendations which streamline the performance of the network. It has also led to a new Wireless-as-a-Service (WaaS) model, as Jeff Aaron puts it “just so your Wi-Fi is predictable, reliable and measurable.” The service offers:

  • Wi-Fi Assurance – visibility into user experience, automated even correlation and packet capture;
  • Virtual Network Assistant – a simple language and integrated help desk system to assist developers;
  • BLE Engagement – driving contextual information to mobile devices, including directions and notifications;
  • BLE Asset Visibility – the ability to locate high-value resources, analyze traffic patterns, and update policies.

Conclusion

As digital transformation continues to re-shape the digital business landscape, the new wireless network solutions pioneered by companies like Verizon and Mist will be an integral tool for enterprises to achieve those goals. And while there is still a long way to go to full-scale AI adoption, this transformation of Wi-Fi shows how essential it will become for IT technology. But once that happens, we can expect an entirely new business landscape underlined with AI.

 

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