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WLAN Management: 10 Mistakes to Avoid
In our latest InformationWeek Analytics Wireless LAN Survey of 779 business technology professionals, we asked what worries them about their Wi-Fi networks. Their top concerns: reliability (53%), performance (50%), and data security (48%). Translation: "It's gotta work all the time. It better be fast, too. And keep prying eyes away from data that swims through the air."
Delivering all those priorities is a tall order, especially while reconciling competing demands to hold down costs. The 802.11n protocol, ratified late last year, improved IT's lot dramatically by bringing many under-the-hood enhancements. Connection rates of 300 Mbps are here now. Soon, 450 Mbps will be available, and 600 Mbps is in our future.
Wi-Fi is a viable access-layer replacement. If you limit the number of users any one access point must support by creating smaller coverage areas, it's possible to deliver decent per-user bandwidth, and there are no wasted copper ports sitting idly, which could reduce acquisition costs. Most companies we work with can't move in one fell swoop to 11n, however. They're juggling a mix of copper and RF, with an alphabet soup of 802.11a/b/g/n devices and supplicants. That's a huge challenge.
What follows are 10 mistakes that could derail IT's best efforts to deliver fast, reliable, secure WLANs. Forewarned is forearmed.
1 | Failure to understand the application load
When planning for a new or upgraded wireless environment, the first thing to ask is, "Which application will place the most demand on the WLAN?" Figuring that out requires that IT organizations thoroughly analyze the business functions driving the need for Wi-Fi and understand the associated applications' latency and quality-of-service requirements. Our advice? If your goal is to build a high-performance WLAN that's an able replacement for copper, build it to the highest common denominator--and that, currently, is VoIP-class.
2 | Lack of environmental planning
Download the September 20, 2010 issue of InformationWeek