In my September 28 column, I invited you to join ACME's debate over setting up a wireless satellite office for about 40 sales employees. We also were considering VoIP softphones, a metro fiber provider for 100-Mbps Internet connectivity at the site, and desktop VPN client access to the main office or a site-to-site VPN through the Internet link--all with locked-down access and authentication at the APs. I received many e-mails from you--here are some of the suggestions and experiences you shared.
» TOTALLY WIRELESS. Some of you have built wholly wireless offices, and most comments were similar to those from an infrastructure engineer who said "I'd go with wireless for sure." One reason is that the wireless solution will save money. You pointed to potential savings, such as lower costs for reconfiguration, re-wiring and moves--savings that we at ACME hadn't included in our own calculations. We also got good advice on a potential pitfall of connecting printers over bridges: lower cost bridges don't always work with some vendors' printers--you must buy their gear.
» A VS. G. Several of you recommended 802.11a over 802.11g for our infrastructure. One reader explained that though "802.11g and 802.11a offer the same performance on paper, you will have far fewer interference issues in the higher frequency band." For ACME, a higher quantity of usable channels means we can more heavily saturate our new office. There was also some discussion of the forthcoming 802.11n standard. It looks promising but is still under development.
» CONTROLLER. A controller-based architecture was strongly recommended as it would help with security, management and interference issues. The APs at the satellite office would be managed and monitored by the controllers--allowing for a centralized wireless deployment versus distributed and isolated management. You also suggested load-balancing controllers for redundancy.
» VOIP. I had noted that we intended to use our VoIP softphones for our sales force at this satellite office. Several dissenting readers thought we may have QoS problems on calls and were wary, especially because, as one of you put it, "Sales and marketing guys live on the phone." However, another contributor with a totally wireless environment said that for his installation, "VoIP and video bandwidth hasn't been a real issue."