“What’s the Wi-Fi password?” seems to be the new “Hi, how are you?” these days; with the use of mobile devices and everything’s need to be “connected” (hello IoT) expanding, that question isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
One of the most frustrating issues I’ve found lately is that the quality of the network you’re on varies wildly from business to business.
I think Forrest Gump’s momma meant to say, “Wi-Fi is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Across all industries the need for a high-performing wireless network is now a necessity, like having water or electricity.
Figuring out what’s causing your wifi performance problems, while not easy to do, will not only benefit your end-users, but your business as a whole.
If you’ve ever wondered what makes some networks so much better than others, here are 4 traits that separate high-performing networks from the unreliable ones.
Your design shouldn’t be more than 3-4 years old
A large-scale, high-performing wireless network is never over 4 years old.
It sounds like a bold claim but hear me out.
With technologies changing at such a swift pace, a WLAN design that was installed over 4 years ago just simply can’t expect to properly keep up.
A wireless network design still in its prime will be able to sufficiently support 4 things:
- Environment - from small changes to your environment that you might not think anything of, like a new microwave machine in the breakroom to the addition of a new building can impede on your wifi performance.
- Devices - your end-users probably aren’t using the same types of devices 5 years ago as they are today.
- Applications - your older design may not be capable of supporting the differing types of applications you could be using now.
- Security threats – there are new threats coming out daily let alone over a 4-year span, making sure your design can prevent and handle new security threats ensures safety for your company and your end-users.
Designed for capacity as well as coverage
A robust wireless design takes into account capacity as well as coverage.
Covering the areas where you need signal is relatively easy to do and definitely part of the equation. However, coverage just isn’t enough, today you need context and that means capacity.
An optimally designed wireless network takes into account the different kinds and amount of devices being used as well as the applications being run on those devices.
An experienced wireless solutions company doesn’t just add more access points and hope for the best. Word to the wise, just throwing up more access points can actually create more issues and end up putting a hurtin’ on your pockets.
Continuous performance monitoring
It’s important to think about your wireless network as a living organism. Just like you need to go to the Dr. for yearly checkup’s to make sure everything is running properly; your wireless network needs routine checkups to support its health.
Just like a Dr. runs tests, gives you your results, and manages your illnesses; your WLAN design should incorporate an NMS (network management system) that actively monitors in real-time what's happening on your network.
A wifi management solution or network management system is where all of your WLAN’s data is stored. The NMS will have features that can present the data in various forms such as RF "heat maps", client locations, movement tracking, and other detailed reporting.
Usage data like this allows you to make adjustments when necessary and allows you to prevent smaller issues turning into larger ones by speeding up troubleshooting time or avoiding it all together.
In addition, your wireless platform should also incorporate these 4 key components in order to manage and deliver a robust, and reliable wireless experience.
- Adaptive Radio Management - provides visibility and helps with trouble shooting and makes adjustments as necessary
- Bandwidth Management - Your design can set up policies for different end-users and applications they are able to run through bandwidth shaping, and reduce the need to purchase more bandwidth
- Change Management - the right design should allow you to configure one AP and “push it out” to the rest of the access points
- Compliance Reporting - tracking metrics is critical for Wi-Fi success
Remember, just like you need check-ups (and sometimes medicine) to maintain good health, so does your WLAN design.
Built with Security at their foundations
A robust, reliable and SECURE WLAN design, the last component of a high-performing wireless network is a big one.
There are many elements to establish the correct security posture, and two of the most critical are:
- Role based access control - enables you to assign roles to different end-user devices. After a role has been defined RBAC allows you to enforce certain policies pertaining to that role.
Ex. Consider a K-12 institution two possible roles could be “teacher” and “student.” The students would have more limited access to what applications and what types of devices they can use and where they can go on your wireless network. At the same time a teacher wouldn’t have as much access as a Principal, but more access than a student.
Next- Generation Firewalls - having an integrated firewall is part A of security your network. Next-gen firewalls provide the following:
- Application Control and Application Visibility
- Prevents Threats
- Simplifies Security Infrastructure
- Knows Devices being used not the IP address they are being used on
RBAC and next-gen firewalls not only protect your wireless network and confidential information, but your end-users as well.
Check out this blog on 11 features every secure wireless network should have to learn more about what it takes to have a secure network.
At SecurEdge, we deliver affordable, robust, and secure wireless platforms – it’s all we do. If you have any questions about your WLAN design or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here.