Does Your Next WLAN Have These Five Features?
Shopping for a Wi-Fi solution seems tough, but it doesn't have to be. There are some strong points where you can challenge vendors to understand what you're getting. This series will help you identify key points to ask about.
Once you know which access points you will install, you must then consider how you will deploy and support them.
As wireless networks increase in complexity, IT departments are searching for solutions that remove the need to become an RF guru to deploy and manage their Wi-Fi. There is little need for CLI with modern WLAN solutions, with most vendors offering a management platform to centralize the configuration and support of networks.
If your vendor is proposing WLAN controllers, ensure that management is included within the proposal, as often vendors will neglect to initially include management in an attempt to mask additional cost. The cloud is becoming a popular method for WLAN management as it offers additional flexibility, both technically and commercially while still offering a centralized management view. Read about how to perform a predictive site survey
Having a centralized management platform makes the deployment, visibility, and support of your network much simpler, especially if you have multiple locations.
When investigating various solutions, determine if public and private cloud, and on-premises options are available to meet your needs, and challenge the vendor to demonstrate the following:
1) Planning – How to import floor plans and perform a predictive survey, and use those plans for a live environment to report coverage, client locations, access point status etc.
2) Provisioning – What is the process to connect an access point and configure features, both basic and advanced. What level of expertise is required to learn the interface; novice or 500-page manual with a week of training?
3) Unified Policies – Does the platform support additional devices such as switches and routers, and how straightforward is it to configure consistent policies? Does the solution have the ability to manage 3rd-party devices?
4) Visibility – How granular is the visibility and reporting offered? Is historical data available? Is it possible to search within the system? Are customizable dashboards available?
5) Support – What happens if we have a problem? How would I go about troubleshooting a problematic client? What tools are included for troubleshooting?
Next week we answer security questions. Stay tuned.
Part 5) Is All Enterprise Wi-Fi Equal?