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BLOG: Creating wireless efficiencies

Eric Chan | June 26, 2013
An efficient and cost-effective wireless solution comes down to total cost of ownership.

Wireless network infrastructure - for anyone in business, it's a necessary evil and, perhaps ironically, one that isn't short on infrastructure.

You need a controller and wireless routers or access points - lots of them - enabling wireless networks to join an existing wired network. You'll have to invest in a site planner/survey tool, or risk incorrectly guessing where the APs should go.

Users need to learn the new WLAN management system, integrate it into the server/LDAP and figure out how to not only add security, but maintain appropriate defences against sophisticated and rapidly evolving threats.

Access points and routers often rely on wi-fi wireless antennae, which can greatly expand the range of the wireless signal. And then there are wireless repeaters - also known as signal boosters or range expanders - that connect to a router or access point and serve as a two-way relay station for the wireless signal.

It all adds up to copious hardware and far more "wires" than a user would care to count. For most, these infrastructure requirements will be cumbersome and costly. They will deplete ROI and cause headaches around configuration, security and performance.

So what's an organisation to do?

The first step is soliciting the right person to help. In this case, a business decision-maker looks at the entire picture, not only identifying technical needs and challenges, but contextualising where and how a wi-fi solution makes the most business sense within the overarching IT architecture.

Efficiency is a key consideration to accelerate productivity and performance. Users can elevate efficiency via consolidation by combining multiple functions into one solution.

A key function in any wireless environment will be security. Users can incorporate standard security technologies such as firewall, VPN and traffic-shaping, as well as intrusion prevention, Web-filtering, anti-spam and anti-virus.

Another is scalability. A comprehensive, feature-rich wi-fi network might be a wonderful investment, but it will fall short on ROI if it can't grow with the organisation's needs. A complete wi-fi solution needs to include a wide selection of access points and wireless controllers as well as support for centralised and distributed AP deployments. While it may seem like a significant investment up-front, it will pay off down the road when the organisation can expand without incurring hefty upgrade costs or infrastructure overhauls.

Organisations will also want to weigh simplicity via an intuitive, "single-pane" management interface that gives IT administrators a comprehensive view of their organisation's network environment. Not all customers are the same, though, and neither are their management needs. A true cost-cutting wireless solution should feature management interface options, including wireless broadband and ADSL-A to ease deployment, monitoring and other management functions.


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