Product Review: Mojo Networks C-130 Tri Radio
WiFi is king in the technology realm. From digital businesses to coffee shops to schools to hospitals, everyone depends on WiFi. Compliance security requirements, a rising population of wireless devices on the network, and the increasing dependence on WLAN as a primary access method have only continued to increase the importance of a good WiFi infrastructure.
Businesses depend upon effective WLAN performance optimization, a strong WIPS (wireless intrusion prevention) security platform and flexible troubleshooting options in their WiFi infrastructure to keep, protect, and maintain the reliability of networks and keep users content accessible.
Mojo Networks won the SPCA 2016 New Product of the Year Award for Networking Equipment. SPCA New Product Award program honors the outstanding product development achievements of manufacturers and suppliers whose products or services are considered to be particularly noteworthy in their ability to enhance the learning environment.
To meet all these needs, enterprises need to deploy persistent channel scanning that searches across the WLAN infrastructure for threats and preserve the health of the WiFi. However, the challenge exists in that most enterprise access points presently are only dual-radio; in a dual-radio access point, both radios are deployed (needed!) to provide consistent and WiFi access. In this setup, typically one radio is in the 2.4GHz spectrum and one in the 5GHz spectrum.
In order to achieve and maintain persistent channel scanning, there are several choices. First, background scanning, a function by which access radios periodically hop to off-service channels, has been the de facto standard for a while to accomplish this goal. However, high bandwidth applications like voice and video are making this method of scanning antiquated and worthless especially since that background scanning would end up disabled, limiting the visibility and effectiveness of the scanning.
An alternative option is deploying extra access points strictly for scanning and configured in a “sensor” mode. However, enterprises face the following challenges when accounting for a persistent channel scanning platform in this manner: increased costs in the form of devices and on-going maintenance, updating infrastructure cost, and Ethernet port costs. Overall, it is a very costly and untenable solution. A third answer, however, is to deploy a tri-radio access point.
With a tri-radio access point, two radios are designed for access and a third is designed for dedicated scanning, all of which provides the only tenable method to perform persistent off-service channel scanning, offering a solution that is cost-effective and easily managed.
In July 2016, Mojo Networks, a leader in secure cloud-managed WiFi, introduced the C-130, the powerful and versatile 802.11ac Wave 2 access point on the market. The C-130 was specifically developed for large network environments that want the flexibility to use a third radio for security, RF (radio frequency) troubleshooting and analysis. The C-130 is an ideal tri-radio access point to use in building safe WiFi infrastructure for any enterprise.
Mojo’s third radio configuration is dedicated to performing multiple functions (including security and management), freeing up the two radios to deliver high-performance access of up to 2.5 Gbps. It is meant to help organizations not have to choose between performance, functionality and security, ensuring a smooth and flawless experience.
Mojo dedicates the third radio to:
- Delivering Mojo AirTight, a WIPS (Wireless Intrusion Prevention System) “with more than 30 patents and recognized as best-in-class by industry analysts, federal government and Fortune 500 enterprises”
- Continuously analyzing the RF spectrum to optimize and supervise Radio Resource Management to improve network reliability and client application performance with Mojo access points
- Improving troubleshooting by constantly feeding live WiFi data to Mojo Packets, Mojo’s cloud-based graphical packet analyzer which enables visual playback of WiFi traffic for rapid troubleshooting
A third radio eliminates the cost of extra devices and extra Ethernet drops, and, in the case of Mojo Networks’ cloud subscription and C-130 access point, there is no extra back-end cost for WIPS service or WLAN performance optimization features that operate from the scan data of the third radio since these are integrated into the product platform.
Mojo, however, highlights the importance that a radio used in this capacity is engineered to what they call “a proper specification.” They outline two primary specifications that should be considered above all: the number of supported spatial streams and the supported 802.11 standard. As such, a 2-stream 802.11ac scanning radio is required to provide the high-fidelity visibility into the available RF spectrum and does so because:
- 1-stream versus 2-stream scanning radio. On a scanning radio, the spatial stream number dictates the type of wireless frames that can be heard. An important note is that “a scanning radio with less spatial streams than those used by an active wireless client cannot detect those transmission frames (e.g. a 1-stream scanning radio cannot “hear” frames transmitted by a 2-stream wireless device).” So generally speaking, WiFi traffic contains a mix of frames with the bulk of traffic today traveling over either 1 or 2 streams. So technologically speaking, a 2-stream scanning radio can monitor virtually all wireless frames while a 1-stream radio can only see a fraction of them so it is important to have that 2-stream to catch all the wireless frames.
- 11ac versus 802.11n. The 802.11ac standard came after 802.11n. The 802.11ac standard, among other features, specified a change to the preamble of MAC frames. It had to be backward compatible, meaning an 802.11ac radio had to be able to read both 802.11n and 802.11ac frames in the air; however, an 802.11n radio cannot read 802.11ac frames. So a square is always a square and a rectangle is sometimes a square, so square up with 802.11ac.
Mojo obviously ensures that their third radio is set up to these proper specifications. With those parameters in mind, they are able to deliver better security and troubleshooting abilities for the enterprise’s WiFi structure.
The key to accurate and effective WIPS detection and containment of any issues is behavioral logic. Behavioral logic identifies devices in wireless space as well as analyzes the connection patterns of wireless devices to identify threats and eliminate false alarms. Like Radio Resource Management (RRM), this comprehensive approach requires constant visibility across the entire RF spectrum, even those channels which are not considered candidate channels in a given regulatory domain.
The 2-stream, 802.11ac third radio provides flexible packet capture, meaning that not only can it be tuned to any channel across both spectrums (for example, to troubleshoot neighboring access points operating on different channels distinct from the current access point), but it can be done without disrupting ongoing service to anyone utilizing the current access point.
In addition, a 2-stream, 802.11ac radio can capture nearly all the WiFi traffic transmitting to and from nearby access points, creating a fuller picture which can enable more effective troubleshooting. The final result? A bigger, clearer picture of the network in any moment. It also provides more information to analyze, which allows better analysis for measuring and maintaining the overall health of the network.
Mojo AirTight helps maintain the security and access of the WiFi for the enterprise’s peace of mind. This is achieved with real time detection and automatic prevention and this continues to occur even when Mojo access points lose connectivity to the cloud. For more security control, there are network controls like NAT, Firewall and QoS at the access point level, to make faster and more reliable networks. Additionally, smart steering addresses any sticky client issues by automatically directing clients with low speed and other issues to a closer and more convenient access point.
The C-130 comes with a lifetime warranty guarantee, and is positioned at a price-point to provide the greatest value relative to any other Wave 2 dual- or tri-radio access point on the market. Recently, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) found that Mojo has the lowest overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) when compared to other leading on-premises WiFi controllers and first generation cloud-managed WiFi providers. After a review of all the solutions, Mojo prevailed as one of the most competitive solutions on the market; a comparable cloud-managed WiFi solution was 26% more costly compared to legacy cloud managed WiFi and up to 56 percent more for on-premise controllers.
The MSRP of $1,085 for Mojo’s C-130 includes 3-year cloud subscription, support and maintenance.
Competitors on the market include Aerohive AP250, Meraki MR53, and Ruckus Zoneflex R710 among others. For a comparison study of these different products, you can review this competitive performance benchmark study.
Protecting the networks and the WiFi structure for your business is very important. Ensuring you have enough power and continuously supplying a flawless WiFi, regardless of video or voice, is pivotal for the success of the enterprise. To feel like you are fulfilling both of these demands, Mojo Networks likely has the platform and correct product for your needs.