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Top considerations while making smart switch to 802.11ac

Gary Newbold Vice President, Asia-Pacific and Japan, Extreme Networks | March 26, 2015
As BYOD and IoT continue to evolve, many devices only come with a wireless interface, with no Ethernet connection or even cellular connectivity. Wi-Fi is now the connection method of choice for many users and increasingly, in organizations, which will require significant upgrades to the network. However, upgrading the wireless network is no longer as simple as before, and will require careful planning and new considerations to take into account.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

As we enter 2015, Asia Pacific remains the fastest-growing region worldwide for the 10th consecutive year and according to IDC, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) segment in the region will continue to experience strong growth in 2015[1]. The proliferation of wireless devices is now entering a new era, well beyond smartphones, tablets and laptops: the Internet of Things (IoT) has arrived bringing with it sensors, wearable devices like watches and glasses driving further demands for wireless capacity and density. IDC predicts that the IoT will include 212 billion things globally by the end of 2020[2]

As BYOD and IoT continue to evolve, many of the devices only come with a wireless interface, with no Ethernet connection or even cellular connectivity. Wi-Fi is now the connection method of choice for many users and increasingly, in organisations. This requires significant upgrades of the organisations' network.

802.11ac is the next generation of wireless, specifically designed to provide higher capacity and density that users and organisations demand. Yet, upgrading the wireless network is not as simple as it was in the past and will need to be planned a bit differently, taking new considerations into account. Here arethe top things to consider when planning the move to 802.11ac.

1)    Site survey
When replacing wired or upgrading the wireless network, and especially when moving to 802.11ac, every organisation should first perform a detailed site survey of the existing wireless network. This will provide the organisation with a solid baseline and enable them identify dead spots in the network and channel usage. Besides, in order to gain full performance benefits of 802.11ac, access points will need to be located close to each other.

2)    Floor plan
Once site survey has been performed, organisations should then use a site planning tool, such as Ekahau, to create a detailed site plan using the floor plan of the building to determine placement of the access points. Many factors can affect Radio Frequency (RF) therefore,analyzing things like makeup of the building will be important - concrete versus sheetrock, how much metal is used in building construction, cubicle farms versus open spaces and so forth.

3)    Draw up the inventory of devices
The Asia Pacific workplace is changing rapidly as users increasingly adopt new innovative ways to put more of their personal and professional lives on mobile devices. The transformation of mobile devices and new models of utilisation are forcing organisations to go beyond the question of whether they need mobility and instead ask how they should be utilszing mobility.Prior to the move to, every organisation should be able to number the devices that will be connecting to the wireless network. And that should also take into account the expected growth in the coming years. This will help them plan for wireless network growth and expansion.


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