I was introduced to Mist in 2019 during the WLPC 2020 event. I was impressed with all the features; however, one missing piece was their NAC solution. I had an opportunity to discuss the NAC solution with Mist; Mist understood the importance of their own NAC solution. Juniper Networks acquired WiteSand (a cloud-native, zero-trust, NAC solution) in 2022. An exciting development and we were able to see a glimpse of the solution during the MistAI in Action event in Vegas.
Fast forward to #MFD9, Jeff Aaron kicks off the #MFD9 Day 1 and reviews all the updates and new products being announced; with Mist Access Assurance on top of the list, we were keen to hear about it from the Juniper Mist team.
Juniper Mist Access Assurance:
Mist Access Assurance is an extension or an update to the Mist IoT Assurance feature set that was announced approximately an year ago.
Anyone who has worked on a NAC solution can understand the complexities around installation, provisioning, configuration and management. Mist Access Assurance aims to resolve these pain points buy moving the NAC in the cloud.
Adding simplicity to create and manage Authentication Policies can enable organizations migrate towards more secure authentication methods without having to incur huge costs from the initial purchase to the deployment, implementation, troubleshooting and management phase.
Pumping Mist Access Assurance data into Client Insights and integrating it into Marvis can help NoC/Helpdesk teams identify issues immediately without having to move through different screens and products. Don’t forget the pcaps that will be provided by Mist in the UI in case of failures. Keep an eye out for my deep dive into Mist Access Assurance.
Not all networks will have a full stack Juniper Mist deployment. What happens when someone is using Mist access points and another vendor switches. Mist Edge as Proxy will be able to handle third party switches and devices.
Watch the full video from Juniper Mist on Mist Access Assurance. #MFD9 #MistNAC #MistAccessAssurance
AP24 – Low Cost Wi-Fi 6E Access Point
Wes Purvis announced an addition to the access point portfolio, Mist AP24. Mist took a slightly different approach with the design of this access point. Two key features:
- Small form factor but it uses the same universal brackets
- Tri-band capable, dual band concurrent
Wes Purvis, discussed Wi-Fi 6E deployments and one crucial piece I would like to share here is the client connectivity. Clients certified as Indoor can connect to LPI APs, Clients certified as Standard can connect to SPI and Dual Clients can connect to either. As Wes mentioned, I would not suggest, I would put an AP43 here and AP45 there, but in specific areas….”
This is a really good FCC document if you want to read some details on 6 GHz general guidelines.
Marvis, ChatGPT, AIOps:
I have written couple of posts previously on troubleshooting with Marvis, Troubleshooting with Marvis – Throughput, Our Wi-Fi is not working – Troubleshooting with Marvis, Troubleshooting with MistAI – Roaming; with Juniper-Mist announcing integration with Zoom, using data from multiple sources and Zoom Client itself, troubleshooting Zoom performance related issues can be simplified for the NoC/Helpdesk teams. Microsoft Teams will be included in the next phase.
While troubleshooting Wi-Fi and network issues for a user, I noticed situations where their performance issues were not related to Wi-Fi or the network. It was the CPU or Memory utilization causing their overall poor experience. The ability to diagnose such factors with Zoom integration is valuable and will enable support teams to find out the root cause faster than traditional methods. Additionally, the ability to go back in time and look at the data for the meeting that already happened is valuable when looking into issues related to Zoom meetings that already happened.
Evolution of Natural language in Marvis (LLM – Large Language Model integration), move from NLU(Natural Language Understanding) to NLG(Natural Language Generation); this will provide the data directly from the Juniper Mist documentation (index documentation), instead of simply providing documentation also provide an answer. Fine Tuning , constant learning and training the AI are some key features that will be part of this evolution.
When it comes to data science, LLM, NLU, NLG there is a lot that can be discussed and possibilities are endless. Watch the full video below:
Auto Placement and Orientation:
I recall seeing this auto placement and orientation demo last year. Looking forward to trying this out and how well this works in different environments. Anchor APs will play a crucial role, they can be predefined or Mist UI will suggest them. I’d imagine for complex and challenging environments, additional anchor access points may be needed to improve the accuracy. This also means installing access points horizontally, as vertical installs may reduce the accuracy of the solution.
Premium Analytics is a separate license required to get detailed data about your network, such as capacity, growth, utilization, applications, trends, occupancy, etc. There is an excessive amount of raw data available that Mist provides via APIs that can be ingested and used for different purposes. Mist also provides Analytics (simple) that may be sufficient for some teams.
However, some customers may want or require additional visibility to this raw data; this is where Premium Analytics comes in. For example, I recently had a customer ask that he wants to be able to see each client session details based on the SSID, Band, Day, Site, and Duration. Premium Analytics had a dashboard that displayed the required information, eliminating the need for any development work.
Sunalini Sankhavaram show cased the Premium Analytics and discussed Business and Technical requirements, observability, longevity of data retention. I liked the fact that if myself or my customer needs access to very specific data/reports Premium Analytics team can create that in a couple of weeks.
My final thoughts and wish list:
Great presentation from the Juniper Mist team as always. Integration of the NAC solution will as part of the same ecosystem will help with the full life cycle of the project, from the initial deployment to the monitoring, managing and troubleshooting. BYoD and IoT features also extend the capabilities of Juniper Mist solution can do for the customers. Juniper Mist AIOps already leading the way and doing an excellent job for the proactive monitoring of the networks and WLANs. As always Juniper Mist not only helps improve the user experience but also improves the experience for the engineering and deployment teams.
Always a pleasure meeting Bob Friday Sudheer Matta, Wes Purvis, Sunalini and listening to what they have to say. Sharing more of my wish list below and would love to hear everyone’s feedback. Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to watch the MFD9 Delegate Round Table on Challenges of Moving Services to the Cloud.
- Excited to see the Mist NAC solution and looking forward to trying it out. Some “in progress” features that we should soon see incorporated in the solution.
- Posture checks (In progress)
- VPN Authentication.
- Eduroam (In progress).
- Fail over/resiliency options (In progress)
- This is my wish list that I’d love to see.
- Get memory usage information in addition to the CPU information when integrating with Zoom and/or Microsoft Teams.
- Would love to see AP multi-packs.
- WPA3 with MPSK.
- While this may not be a popular request but better mesh connectivity configuration and map display.
- Once AFC regulations have been squared away, would love to see an outdoor 2.4, 5 and 6 GHz access point.
- Ability to do NAT and DHCP on AP12
- More in Private 5G/LTE space.