Fun with Mist labels

I have too many WLANs. I mean, don’t we all? Due to…”legacy”…I have a “Corp” WLAN, a guest WLAN, and then 3 others. Well, the other day I wanted to do something simple: I had a group of APs, 6 in total, that I wanted to NOT broadcast those other WLANs. It wasn’t super intuitive to me how to do this in Mist so I did what I usually do: I bugged Wes and here’s what I learned.

The correct way to do what I wanted to do was with a Label. Now here is where you have your first decision point: Do you need a label at the Site level or the Organization level? In my case at work I was applying this label to an Org level template, and so I needed to have an Org level Label. In the examples below I’m doing this with a Site level WLAN, so I need a Site level Label. The good news is that how you create the label is identical, it’s just a matter of where you do it.

So step 1: go to Site and click Labels:

Now you’ll see all the labels you have. In my home network I’ve named a bunch of clients, so those all show up here.

(Yes, I named my Roomba Dolores. As in Dolores Abernathy from Westworld.)

Anyway, next you click “Add Label” up in the corner. You might miss it, so I put a red box around it. Next you’re going to want to make your label. It looks like this:

So we need a Label Name, obviously. And this label is of type Access Point. But what’s really important is that you click the radio button next to NOT. Because this label represents the APs we want to EXCLUDE from a WLAN. After you select the NOT radio button then in the box under Label Values click the plus sign and you should see a list of your APs. (I have 4 APs at home.) In this example I picked two of them.

So after that click “Create”. It’ll take you back to your list of labels and you should see your new label now:

So now navigate to the config for the WLAN you want to exclude from your labeled APs.

Go over (or down) to “Apply to Access Points” and click “AP Labels”. Click on the plus sign and select your newly created Label:

And now once you’ve done that and the label is applied the “Save” button should turn blue so click that.

And that’s all there is to it. Now that I’ve done it once it seems simple, but at first I couldn’t quite figure out how it all sorted out. Thanks to Wes I did and so hopefully this will help someone else so that we all don’t bug Wes.

“So I put the directional antenna IN the AP.”

I will say, Cisco did not play this year at Mobility Field Day 9. That may be because the marketing team hired a ringer but I’m not gonna say anything more about that. What I do know is that they brought two of my favorite TMEs, Jim Florwick and Fred Niehaus. (They’re not big twitter dudes, so don’t get your hopes up.) These gentlemen are the best example of Wi-Fi and RF being as much art as science. I kinda want to be them (or Peter Mackenzie, who’s in the video you just clicked on) when I grow up.

This time Jim talked about AI RRM, but Fred…Fred talked about a lot of things. The thing I want to talk about that HE talked about is the 9166D1. I think the idea is brilliant and will be a great resource for a lot of 6GHz networks for a while…until external antennas get sorted (if they ever do). I think it solves for a pretty common issue and I found myself wondering “Why hasn’t anyone done this before?”

I have a fair number of external antennas in my environment. For the moment I’m going to ignore the ones in the floor and talk about the “usual” type. The open-air type. In one of the buildings we have these open spaces that originally needed coverage and then needed capacity. (Once the building was being lived in some of the spaces changed their use cases. It happens.) Now we were covering this space from the edges using 60° sector antennas. And when I moved to capacity…well I think I’m one of the few customers who used the DART connector on the 3802e with a second external antenna in dual-5GHz mode. But I’m special that way. Jim even said so…but he wasn’t really happy when he said it, you know?

And that’s the most common use case I see for sector antennas in your average deployment. But let’s be real – they be ugly AF usually. (Like…Cisco, why do you put bright orange labels on the coax?) It’s a pain for the installers to hook up. If you’re not ordering the antenna directly from the AP manufacturer then you have to match up connectors, number of leads, etc. Yes, it’s part of the job but it’s not a fun part of the job.

Well, combine the inherent nastiness of that kind of install with the current prohibition on external antennas in 6GHz and you get:

Look at that. In the words of Outkast: So fresh and so clean!

Here’s all the fun bits:

That’s a flagship alright. It does all the things and throws in a directional form factor to boot. Aside from the under-floor application I mentioned earlier I could use this instead of an external antenna in almost any indoor application that *I* have. (I say almost because I also have a pair of Gilaroos which is another Fred special.)

I know that Cisco is working hard to address some of the issues in their platform but I will say this: I never took issue with their RF design skills. I mean LOOK at that antenna design:

They even address my biggest complaint about the 9120/9130 form factor:

I dunno about you, but the first time I tried to plug a Cat 6A patch cable into a 9120 or a 9130 it was…snug. It looks like that feedback was acted upon. (This may also be the case with the regular CW9166, to be fair.)

All in all this looks like a very potent weapon to have in a wireless design arsenal. I look forward to playing with one.