WIFI is great!
Wireless allows us to easily connect our various devices to the things we need without a wired connection. WIFI speed, stability, performance and security continues to improve. It won’t be long before WIFI effectively replaces hard wired Ethernet connections.
So why this article?
Can’t one just plug and play any old WIFI access point and get to work? Yes you can, but should you? We think not.
First you want to use a quality brand wireless access point (WAP). You want a stable device that you can rely on and that you don’t constantly have to troubleshoot or reboot. We like the Cisco and Apple access points.
Understanding the Variables
Not all WIFI networks are the same. When designing your network, you need to consider the following factors:
- Will one access point provide enough coverage area or are multiple devices required? If multiple devices are required, will you need to move through the space with your device(s) or will the connecting devices be more or less permanently situated?
- Do devices other than your business devices such as employee handhelds or guest laptops need WIFI access and if so do they need access to more than just the internet?
- Do you have special security requirements?
- What type of computing will your staff be doing over the WIFI? Will it mostly be web based activities or do you heavily rely on active/persistent connectivity?
Depending on how you answer these questions will determine which device(s) and configurations are best for you.
Here are some sample scenarios:
I have a small office and want staff to use their laptops wirelessly.
Start with a single simple but quality WIFI access point like a Cisco 371 or an Apple Airport Extreme.
Configure TWO wireless networks on the single device: one for your business devices and one for guests and personal devices. Hide the first and show the guest network. Name your networks in such a way so as not to broadcast your company’s identity. This makes your business less of a target for the snooping hacker.
Setup wireless security for both networks. We find WPA2 Personal – AES is a good place to start. Make sure you use strong passwords. Even though entering passwords for the first time may be tedious, it is a level of security that you cannot afford to forego.
I have a large office where I need dynamic coverage throughout.
In this scenario, you need to up the ante. Simply installing multiple WAPs will not serve you well. You will want to use multiple WAPS in conjunction with a Wireless Controller like a Cisco 2500 or 5500 series controller. These devices provide seamless coverage as you move throughout your space as well as improved throughput that assure your team stay connected and are uninterrupted.
Then simply follow the example above by setting up multiple networks with the appropriate security options.
If you have additional needs such as high-availability application or file sharing requirements, you will need to address these through complimentary solutions which may include hard wired systems or alterations to your processes.
Whatever your networking needs are, when installed properly, WIFI is a great way to go.