One of the biggest challenges that every business or organization is struggling to solve is how to support the growing number of mobile devices on their wireless networks.
Making matters even more difficult to manage is that everyone is also dealing with the added pressure of supporting a more demanding user experience and increasing data usage.
So what can you do to make sure that you'll be able to not only answer these current challenges but also establish a solution that can support your future business needs?
As a CIO or IT decision maker, you’re best bet would be to update your existing wifi network using the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard at the heart of your next deployment or update.
However, before you dive head first into your migration strategy, you have to lay down the groundwork first and have the right plan in place.
Making the move before your fully ready will only cause more frustration for you and your users.
To help you prepare for a migration to 802.11ac we've outlined the 3 crucial steps you have to complete to make your transition as smooth and successful as possible.
1. Complete a Wireless Site Survey
Major network updates like this prove to be more complex than it seems. A new wireless site survey conducted specifically for 802.11ac will help point out the adjustments that have to be made and requirements you have to put together.
Migrating to the new standard means transitioning from a 2.4GHz network to a 5GHz network.
While there are many pros to the 5GHz frequency there are also some major differences that you will need to plan for, like having the decreased ability to penetrate walls and other building materials.
This is why it's critical to preform a wireless site survey focusing on this new standard. With so many differences from older standards you can't just throw some new AP's up and hope for the best.
A proper wireless site survey will allow you to optimize your new network to take advantage of the higher throughput and increased number of channels that 11ac has to offer.
Suggested Reading - "How to Effectively Plan Your Next Wireless Network Design"
All high performing wifi networks didn't just happen they were planned and optimized to be that way.
2. Make Accommodations for 802.11ac Wave 2
802.11ac continues to be the more widely used standard and will stay that way for at least another decade. However, Wave 2 is coming real soon and this promises expanded gigabit speeds and MU-MIMO, a new feature that will allow APs to utilize multiple streams that can reach multiple clients simultaneously.
To save on having to upgrade again and to make the most out of your current upgrade, plan for Wave 2 now rather than later. Some vendors are getting ahead of this by offering APs that will eventually support Wave 2 technology through the addition of a plug-in module, while some already offer Wave 2 AP's.
"The pending emergence of Wave 2 802.11ac, the steady rise of the Internet of Things in the enterprise, and the coming onslaught of E-Rate funding in the US are among the factors that may pave the way for more robust growth for the rest of 2015,” said Nolan Greene, Research Analyst, Network Infrastructure, at IDC.
Suggested Reading - "3 Reasons Why 802.11ac Wave 2 is the Wi-Fi Standard You Wish You Had"
3. Allocate Budget for Upgrades
To ensure seamless migration to 11ac, you need to plan ahead for all the possible expenditures. You can also ease into it by doing the upgrade on a rolling basis.
The capital investment for 802.11ac equipment is not much different from when you upgraded to 802.11n, and maybe a little more for Wave 2 compatibility. Nonetheless, you can have a good idea of the upgrade cost by considering what you spent on the previous one.
Ironing out all the financial details now will prevent any budgetary issues from happening and allow you to focus on the migration later.
Many times we've seen businesses and organizations upgrade to 11ac in phases, concentrating on upgrading their highest priority areas first and then over time completing the entire migration.
It all comes down to your specific environment, who and what you're trying to support and what sorts of goals you have going forward (scaling growth).
Every situation is different and there is no one size fits all, especially in wireless.
Suggested Reading: "8 Things You Didn't Know About 802.11ac"
11ac technology will have a big impact on your company’s performance and efficiency. From gigabit speeds to optimizing stakeholder connections, the benefits look promising. So taking a progressive approach to 802.11ac may be your winning move.
Make sure you get the most out of your wireless network update by carefully going through the steps above. As always, preparation is key to smoothing the way for any new technology deployment, sparing you a lot of headaches, complications and money later.
If you have any questions about upgrading your wireless network infrastructure or would like a free consultation, simply contact us here.