Brief Encounters

Ian Hunter reports on three vendor catch-ups he made recently where the conversations were all about Thingbots, Video and 802.11ax. Quite a mixture… but there is a thread to follow here.

F5 Networks

David Warburton is a Senior Threat Research Evangelist EMEA at F5 Networks, and if he ever appeared on BBC’s Mastermind he would be answering questions on the subject of ‘The rise of Thingbots in data theft, Fraud and Cryptojacking.

OK, a good place to start here would be one of Warburton’s favourite topics; Thingbot Apocalypse and how to prepare for IoT attacks.

“It is projected that by 2035 there will be over 1 trillion Things connected to the internet. That’s 142 devices for every human on this planet. Despite cutting edge technology and exciting new use cases in fields such as medical care, smart homes and autonomous vehicles, these devices are routinely hacked.

Since compromised IoT devices can be used to pivot inwards and attack an organisation’s internal network or, conversely, used to create a botnet to attack many organisations at once, IoT security affects all of us, whether we personally use IoT or not.”

Warburton says IoT devices are rapidly becoming the weakest link in cybersecurity stating, ‘They are a simple and easy target for Hackers’.

F5 Networks, a $2billion US firm, has three distributors in the UK including Arrow and Westcon.


Andy Nolan, VP of UK, Ireland & Northern Europe for video conferencing firm Lifesize, says, “Video conferencing is changing the way we work, and the future of the technology to increase productivity, collaboration and share company culture and values, all increasingly important as businesses are now truly global.”

Austin, Texas based Lifesize, a channel only supplier, had been a bit of a disrupter when they first burst upon the scene so I wanted to know if anyone was still buying CPE based VC solutions these days.

“Not really,” says Nolan. “Some systems are sold but mostly deployments today are cloud based with our USP being that we are cloud based with end-to-end solutions alongside wide interop capability with both Polycom and Cisco.”

Nolan says that video is far more of a mainstream application today with users moving away from free services to business based applications.

Lifesize is pushing their Share application in a move to try and eliminate the clutter of cables, cords and connectors to deliver a wireless solution for presenting content in any meeting room. Share uses ultrasonic audio waves to connect presenters to the room display, giving plug-and-play screen sharing, minus the plug.

Aerohive Networks
Talking of wireless, we always want to know what’s coming next in Wi-Fi which was why we recently hooked up with Alexandra Gates, Principal Product Marketing Manager at Aerohive who told us her company is the first to announce availability of 802.11ax access points. Apparently, this time the next iteration is not all about speed.

“Optimising user mobile experience requires more than just high speed Wi-Fi. IT professionals are facing challenges of capacity, flexibility, security, privacy, and visibility as they evaluate complex combinations of WLAN standards, management, and technology like OFDMA.”

OFDMA stands for orthogonal frequency-division multiple access and the emphasis here is on the multi-user/multi-access aspects of 802.11ax.

Gates revealed that Aerohive has just announced the deployment of its 802.11ax Access Points Wi-Fi solution at Wellington College in Berkshire and claims this is the world’s first deployment of an 802.11ax solution.

Next generation Wi-Fi is on the radar of UK politicians. At this year’s Labour Party conference, the party called for free Wi-Fi in public spaces as a way to help revitalise the country’s high streets. The rationale is that providing free Wi-Fi for high street shoppers will encourage people to spend more of their leisure time in town centres. 802.11ax seems ideally suited to fulfil this mission.

Gates concludes, “802.11ax, which was announced by the Wi-Fi Alliance on 3 October 2018, solves a lot of the current problems with traffic collisions, security and handling the volume of IoT devices and is fully backwards compatible with previous 802.11 standards. It’s Wi-Fi for the real world.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine