Wi-Fi networks were originally built with coverage in mind and access points were installed in rooms where it was known to need Wi-Fi. But as businesses began migrating from Ethernet to a complete Wi-Fi only infrastructure, this made Wi-Fi a mission critical service to business objectives.
In the bustling city of San Francisco, a tech-centric business relied on Wi-Fi for all operations, including accessing the cloud. Uploading and downloading traffic patterns began slowing down Wi-Fi. To help increase productivity and take advantage of the investment made into the WLAN infrastructure, we helped plan and design a WLAN where end users saw an increase in performance, reliability, and their experience increased dramatically.
We outline 6 characteristics of high performing WLANs which do away with frustrated end users and get the business back on track to productivity.
Wi-Fi Starts with Planning and Design
You give your finger a quick lick and put it up in the air. Then you turn to your installer and point to randomly selected areas of the ceiling and say, “Put a WAP here, one over there, and one right here and we should be good..” This is a recipe for disaster.
To deploy a high performing WLAN, in which your workforce heavily relies on, requires more than guess work. It requires a proper design which begins with gathering requirements. When it comes to upgrading the core network, Wi-Fi must be treated the same. Treat Wi-Fi as an extension of your wired network.
Design is the result of thorough planning. It requires understanding how the WLAN will be used, what devices will be utilizing the WLAN, how many devices, and what applications. This is not an exhaustive list of questions but it’s a good starting point. The end result of planning and design will be a WLAN built for a productive end user experience.
Packet6 can help with the planning and design of your next generation WLAN.
Planning upfront will lay the foundations to a WLAN designed to fit the business needs. A WLAN must be designed for a mobile workforce. The technical professional must have in-depth Wi-Fi knowledge and understand the knobs required to tune for the specific environment.
A high performing WLAN will be designed so that there are less trouble tickets. It will be designed on the capability of the devices utilizing the WLAN, the capacity needs of the environment, and for high density of devices.
Making Wi-Fi Reliable
Accessing information quickly and easily on any wireless device drives the mobile workforce. Wi-Fi is now the primary access. Businesses have been migrating from Ethernet to an all wireless infrastructure. That means the WLAN infrastructure must be reliable.
Redundancy builds a robust WLAN infrastructure to prevent major outages. It prevents loss of productivity and loss of potential revenue. Ensure the WLAN is built with good backend infrastructure.
A reliable WLAN must be capable of adapting to the radio frequency environment. It must react to adverse effects from neighboring WLANs. Interference is another productivity killer which a WLAN needs to identify and mitigate.
With workforces placing an abundant reliance on cloud applications, maintaining a reliable WLAN is key to boosting business growth.
Securing the Wi-Fi Network
Mobile data traffic grew 63% in 2016, according to Cisco. There’s no avoiding the penetration of IoT devices as they take the enterprise by storm. It leaves many wondering how to secure IoT devices and their WLANs.
IoT may help drive innovation but data must be kept secure and unauthorized access needs to be thwarted.
A high performing WLAN must allow trusted devices to authorized data. Properly segmenting these networks is just one of many steps.
A WLAN system must identify rogue access points and devices with a method of containing those threats quickly.
In 2007, TJ Maxx had a cyber security breach of their credit card data because of weak Wi-Fi security. Don’t become the next headline.
Maintaining Good End User Experience
In today’s workplace, everyone is accessing the cloud at all times. Wi-Fi is now the primary method of access to network resources. People are carrying up to 3 or 4 devices at a time and needing to get their work done from any of those devices.
To provide a boost in productivity and effectively collaborate with others, slow or unresponsive Wi-Fi must be eliminated.
A well performing WLAN always goes back to reliability. An increase in reliability boosts end user productivity. Users can perform their work efficiently and from anywhere in the office. Voice calls are often done over Wi-Fi calling due to a lack of LTE signal penetration into the building. Video conferencing and streaming is putting a strain on the WLAN as well. Plan for these workloads.
The quality of the users work over Wi-Fi can be directly matched to the reliability of the Wi-Fi network.
Designing for Capacity
As people begin working in the office at early hours, the Wi-Fi network will be humming. As more people begin to fill in their seats some start noticing a degradation of Wi-Fi service.
The increase in number of devices creates a high density situation. With each person carrying 3-4 devices can put a strain on the WLAN.
The types of applications used on each of these devices defines how well a Wi-Fi network will perform. If it was designed according to requirements, it will perform as expected. Without planning for capacity equates to planning for failure.
Other factors must be taken into consideration. In addition to planning for capacity, APs must be mounted properly and antennas aligned in the right direction. It is all based on the usage and capacity requirements of the work patterns.
How do we know if a WLAN is performing? Is the IT support staff armed with the right tools to understand the state of the Wi-Fi network. Analytics can provide valuable insight into how the Wi-Fi network is being used and to what capacity. This information can lead to optimizations for increased end user experience.
Analytics can also empower the IT support staff to troubleshoot quickly when issues arise. The data lends itself to measuring end user experience across an entire network stack.
With powerful information on-hand it can improve root cause analysis, decrease length in time spent during the investigation process, and improve time to resolution.
Wi-Fi networks are more complex than ever. The 6 characteristics are; starting with a plan and design based on requirements of the business and end users, reliability to ensure devices can connect when they need to, security – which should be thought of starting from the beginning of the design, Wi-Fi networks should provide a good end user experience and less frustrations, built for capacity as more devices are brought onto Wi-Fi, and should be monitored to investigate any issues, find trends, or to be proactive.