Many businesses are failing to take advantage of their Wi-Fi deployments. At Wanstor, we are finding that it is the planning and implementation of Wi-Fi deployments that make or break a successful Wi-Fi solution. To set up a successful enterprise Wi-Fi solution, Wanstor has developed a set of best practices.
By following the practices below, we believe any business can quickly and efficiently replace wired LAN access services in existing workspaces and implement Wi-Fi in new locations. So what are the secrets to Wi-Fi deployment success?
- Plan for the future – Quite often businesses only plan for Wi-Fi usage which will satisfy user demands today and not the future. This means that the investments in Wi-Fi will satisfy an immediate need, but as we have seen in many businesses Wi-Fi usage continues to grow at an exponential rate as video, voice and internet usage continues to grow. This means IT Managers should take the time to understand their businesses Wi-Fi usage needs now and those up to 3 years in the future to make sure a robust, reliable and ever ready Wi-Fi network is in place.
- Start Incrementally with Proofs of Concept (PoCs), Staged Deployments, and Standardized Components – This will help you to evaluate where and when traffic is flowing from and if there are any problems with certain devices or areas in buildings
- Design for the best possible end user experience – Make sure your Wi-Fi design takes into account user needs and the activities they are likely to be undertaking on the Wi-Fi network. For example is your Wi-Fi network set up so live video can be streamed, high data applications used and can cope with several devices connecting at once?
- Employ Redundancy to ensure reliability, availability, and coverage – For better coverage and more reliable performance, we suggest businesses use a dual-redundant infrastructure that includes two clouds, two WLAN controllers per building, and two APs to cover every physical point in a building. This infrastructure will give more APs per location and fewer users per AP. Thus providing greater reliability and availability since there is no single point of failure. If any infrastructure component fails, any connecting wireless device will automatically roam to a neighboring AP, minimising interruption to the user.
- Perform site surveys and verify coverage – To adapt a Wi-Fi solution to different types and sizes of buildings, it is strongly suggested the IT Manager invests some time in using an automated Wi-Fi planning tool. This will help to meet the following criteria:
- Enable a 15 to 20 percent AP overlap
- Locate APs for redundancy and dynamic power allocation
- Serve 15 to 20 users per AP
- Make sure small cells are available for VoIP service
- Provide coverage of conference rooms and shared areas separate from employee office apps
- Test the quality of service for voice and video demands – Quite often Wi-Fi solutions are deployed with IT Managers thinking users will only be accessing email and a couple of low data usage apps. Nothing could be further from the truth. Walk past any coffee shop and you will see people on phones and tablets, making calls, streaming films and uploading images to social networking sites. This means the Wi-Fi design has to have the right coverage and bandwidth to accommodate users needs at all times of the day.
- Base Wireless Infrastructure on Wi – Fi controllers – Wi-Fi controllers allow IT administrators to create AP groups for geographical management and security as well as to implement special features. If a change needs to be made to the wireless configuration of an entire building, such as adding an SSID (service set identifier), the administrator can simply apply that change to the group through the Wi-Fi controller. Implementing centralised management through WLAN controllers also enhances security by enabling IT administrators to check logs, configure security settings, and implement group policies for wireless users all from one location. Wi-Fi controllers also make it easier to detect defective APs
- Follow the FCAPS model – To monitor and manage wireless infrastructure, Wanstor uses an FCAPS (fault, configuration, accounting, performance, and security) management model:
- For IT notifications of errors (faults), we use a management solution that classifies, and forwards Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) traps and event messages based on severity.
- To reduce configuration time and effort, we use a generic global configuration template supplemented with a local configuration template where necessary. For simple, global updates, we standardise as much as possible on a single firmware solution for APs across the enterprise.
- Accounting/performance. For network health, we monitor coverage, load, utilization, and uptime. Our troubleshooting capabilities include addressing single and multiple clients, depending on the extent of the issue. To enhance security, we configure the system to identify and alert us to rogue devices using unauthorized networks.
- To enhance security, we configure the system to identify and alert us to rogue devices using unauthorized networks.
- Set up a separate Wi-Fi channel for internet access by employee-owned devices – Employees want the flexibility to perform their jobs using the platforms, applications, online tools, and services they use on their own devices. To enable employee-owned devices in the enterprise, we suggest a business sets up a separate channel where employees can access Wi-Fi which does not impact on business only devices separated by different firewalls.
- Define and control access by user type – In providing the right level of access for each user type (employee using a corporate-issued mobile business PC, employee using an employee owned device etc), use different Wi-Fi networks and standards.
- Control access to data with authentication and role-based trust – Make all access to the Wi-Fi as secure as possible. Use technologies such as federation, multifactor authentication, and certificate services to control access to data by performing role-based trust calculations and managing access privileges appropriately.
By incorporating some of the best practices above into your Wi-Fi planning and deployment phase, Wanstor believes businesses will be better prepared to take advantage of everything a wireless infrastructure has to offer.
For more information about Wanstor’s Wi-Fi services click here.