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Wireless Network Design Basics: Redundancy and the Importance of High-Availability

What is redundancy? The definition via Google search says, "The use of words or data that could be omitted without loss of meaning or function; repetition or superfluity of information".

The definition when it comes to RF design or Wi-Fi engineering means, "The inclusion of extra components that are not strictly necessary to functioning, in case of failure in other components. Example, "a high degree of redundancy is built into the wifi installation"

Based on the Wi-Fi engineering form of the definition, redundancy is a critical area of concern in any area of enterprise network design, and should be accounted for appropriately. With today’s reliance on digital networks systems, redundancy should be built in to every aspect of an enterprise WLAN design.

Redundancy comes in many different forms, and protects our systems in varying levels of failover. You will hear many different terms for network redundancy such as high availability, active-active, active-standby, 1:1, 1+1, n+1, hot standby, warm standby, cold standby and many more. 

Which of these you implement depends on a few different things such as your tolerance for downtime and the depth of your pocketbook.

Why is redundancy important when designing an enterprise wireless network?

As mentioned above, the level of redundancy you build into your network is dependent on many factors, but the factor of downtime is probably the most important.

For example, the recent Delta Airlines computer outage that lasted for 5 hours cost them around $150M in lost revenue; that is $500,000 per min of downtime.

Can your company afford that?

The cost of building in redundancy into your enterprise wireless LAN is insignificant compared to the cost of downtime; therefore, it is very important to consider the many different areas of redundancy for wireless LANs.

Is a redundant WLAN design always necessary?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask; in my opinion, it is always necessary.

From the hotspot at a coffee shop all the way to a healthcare facility that is using their wireless LAN to track the vital signs of their patients, redundancy is absolutely necessary.

It is fairly obvious why redundancy is important when a healthcare facility is tracking vital signs, but why you may ask is redundancy important for a local coffee shop providing free guest Wi-Fi?

Our lives these days for almost any age person, millennials to baby boomers, is fueled by being connected anywhere, any time with any device. If a local coffee shop has sporadic Wi-Fi connectivity, their customers will be less likely to frequent that coffee shop, which in turn, will affect their business.

In summary, redundancy, the ability to survive a system failure, is very important to your business, is easily designed, deployed and managed, and can attribute to your business’ success.

Every business and organization today has to support three things:

  • The end-user
  • The growing number of connected devices (BYOD, the IoT)
  • Mission-critical and non-mission critical applications

Whether you're starting from scratch or updating an existing network, a school or a warehouse facility, the first step is completing a predictive wireless site survey. The key to your business's success depends on how well your plan and how good your wireless survey is. 

At SecurEdge, we deliver affordable, robust, and secure wireless platforms – it’s all we do. If you have any questions about redundancy, what your WLAN design needs to support your business goals or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here.

wireless network design kit, wireless service providers,
Kit Johnston

Kit Johnston

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