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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.

4)    Gauge the density of users
In order to determine the best number of access points for an area, IT teams should also plan - as much as possible - the density of employees/customers in the given area. Take for instance, an auditorium or a stadium: those areas will have a definitely much denser user concentration than a lobby or an office. This will impact the network tremendously. Besides, density might change depending of the time of day. An auditorium in a school might have an event in the evening where students and parents are invited, which could drive increased user density than during the course of a normal day.

5)    Audit the wired network
Performing an audit of the wired network should also be key when considering a move to 802.11ac. This will help organisations ensure that they have adequate Ethernet ports to support newly deployed access points. Indeed, 802.11ac access points may be equipped with multiple Ethernet ports to offload the increased amount of RF traffic. Additionally take an inventory of switch ports and power. Organizations should therefore, make sure the access point has at least two Ethernet ports. They should also checkout the power requirements.

6)    Know the applications
Organisations should get complete visibility of the applications running on the network as they greatly affect the wired and wireless network. This is driven by users who expect seamless service and performance. Knowing the nature of applications will help in planning the wireless network. Some applications are latency sensitive like VoIP and video and some require higher bandwidth such as content streaming sites (YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, etc.).They could be centralised within the datacenter, distributed across a campus, hosted in the cloud, or distributed across multiple regions. Additionally, when looking at this, organizations should also consider upstream versus downstream application usage. It may be heavier in one direction or the other. As with devices, organizations will also have to look at where application growth will be in five years in order to plan for wireless network growth and expansion.

7)    Select a vendor with experience
Many vendors are relatively new to wireless offerings. Therefore, it is essential for organisations to select a vendor with considerable experience to effectively design, deploy and optimise even the most complex networks. Additionally, organisations should also ensure that the vendor has a full range of support plans designed to provide the right service for the organisations'specific business needs.

8)    Run a post-site survey
Once the installation of 802.11ac is completed, organizations should make sure they perform one last site survey to ensure that they have the full coverage expected and planned for. That way, they can ensure they have an established baseline for future installations or network changes.


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