Preparing for Airheads

By Craig Schnarrs, Blog Contributor
Wow, it's March already, the year is just flying by, one of my career goals for the year was to be more socially involved,  to network with people in my profession a lot more, and what better  forum for personal interaction, than at  a user conference, rooms full of like minded individuals searching for the same thing. As Devin Akin says "It's all about the people".
I just got back from the Wireless Lan Professionals Summit.  It was a great time, since then, I have had some time to play around with my Aruba IAP-225, that I got at the Wlan pros summit and I was able to put it to immediate use. I needed a three stream 802.11ac Packet capture for a Proof of concept design I am doing. I found this really great blog article by Peter Mackenzie it has all the details
The Aruba Airheads conference, is March 10-14 I am really looking forward to this one. This will be my first time at an Airheads conference. I have heard very good reviews about last years conference. And I am really looking forward to learning a lot of new things and meeting a lot of great people.
Here is the link to the conference breakout sessions and descriptions,
There are so many good sessions, but the ones I have chosen for me are below along with some of my thoughts.
Wi-Fi Behavior of Popular Mobile Devices, it talks about how the latest smartphones, tablets and laptops operate over Wi-Fi. Their speeds, their roaming behavior, rate vs. range characteristics, CPU/application performance.  This is very important to me as people are always bringing in a new device and it would be nice to know how the most popular devices behave and to be ready for them, instead of being blindsided by them at 2am when something isn't working the way it's supposed to.
Wireless LAN & 802.11ac Wi-Fi Fundamentals: Sometimes we all need to go back to basics and remind ourselves the essential details on Wi-Fi technology. I always love learning about what is next, but a big part of that is remembering what came before it as well. Review of current standards always helps freshen up my mind, and prepare for future growth.
Wireless LAN Security Fundamentals: Wi-Fi security is a top-of-mind issue for any wireless LAN deployment, independent of the industry. We all want to ensure proper end user and mobile device authentication. And we need to protect the data in transit with best possible Wi-Fi encryption. Security is always a hot topic, how do you balance user freedom vs  the security that the business needs.  
Advanced RF Design & Troubleshooting: Neighbor Wi-Fi networks, RF noise sources, misbehaving clients, indoor and outdoor coverage patterns can all impact mobile device performance on wireless networks, proactively monitor your wireless LAN and put together a process for troubleshooting those toughest connectivity issues. I work in manufacturing and this is really going to help a lot, I always come across the strangest issues, and it's always nice to have another tool in your toolbelt.
Best Practices on Migrating to 802.11ac Wi-Fi: Moving towards a new Wi-Fi technology does not have to be too much of an undertaking. Of course, that's assuming great deal of planning and attention to detail in terms of defining the clear steps on how to get there was performed.  My motto has always been measure twice and cut once. It's so important to do the prep work. It makes the implementation go so much smoother. I'm going to be getting a lot out of this session, because I'm in the middle of proof of concept design for the next generation manufacturing plant
Evolving your career from Network to Wireless to Mobility Engineer: Many of us started in the route/switch world of networking. Times were good, the market was expanding and we had lots of work to do. Then one day we found Wireless Networking and everything changed. This is going to be really really good, I tell everyone that I work with that there is more to wi-fi than just wireless and if you look at the big picture, things will go so much better. Some people listen and some others do not, I'm happy to report that those that listen have been sleeping peacefully, and those that don't listen, well they are usually the ones on the 2am emergency conference calls.   
TechFieldDay Roundtable: I will be on the panel of folks from TechFieldDay (  Join us as we debate the most pressing issues for mobility engineers in access networking today.we will offer tips on wide range of topics from RF design and troubleshooting to improving RoI for mobile applications and services. If you have a topic you would like to talk about, come on over and we will chat about it.  I am always happy to meet and help others. 
This is going to be an awesome conference, and you can't beat the location Las Vegas, Nevada. There is always so much to learn, so many new people to meet and there is always the unexpected surprises along the way. I think Aruba has a winner here, and I am so happy that I am able to participate. I hope to see everyone there, have fun and learn something new today!