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Wireless Networks (WiFi) for Larger Networks Best Practices
Chances are, you've got a wireless network that you're not entirely in control of. Or perhaps you've carefully deployed wireless in your environment, and you've mistakenly believed that you could just set it and forget it. You can do that with many computing technologies, but beware doing it with wireless! This article is going to discuss some best practices for WiFi Networks.
Conduct a Wireless Site Survey
If you haven't already set up your Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) it is a good idea to do a survey (or audit as some professionals know it) because it is important to understand how the WLAN will perform and how many and how access points (APs) should be positioned. Wireless audits can also indicate neighboring traffic that may interfere, environmental issues, and other potential obstacles. The more you know about your network, the better prepared you are to properly integrate wireless.
The environment can have a huge impact on the quality of service you provide. You have to ask yourself, What does the environment look like? What about the construction of the building (metal shielding can cause wireless frequencies to have some odd properties).
Implement a Strong Security System
A strong security system needs to be in place to prevent everyone from gaining access to your network as well as protect against any vulnerabilities of the wireless network. Unsecured wireless networks can often be the target of people looking for free wireless access or hackers looking for a place to launch an attack.
Wireless security can be looked at from two perspectives:
Plan for Future Growth
Many wireless network aren't properly planned. If you do properly deploy wireless technologies into cells, you can create a very high-capacity environment. Match up your hardware and technologies. Orchestrate coexisting traffic along different protocols or subnets. Different wireless protocols can coexist without interfering with one another.
Planning for future growth is an often overlooked aspect with deploying WiFi's. There may only have 20 users today, but demand can grow quickly with 200 users wanting wireless access tomorrow. Itís important to install an architecture that can grow with the needs of the organization to avoid costly redesigns.
Deploy Analysis Tools Strategically for Maximum Visibility
Placing network-analysis consoles and probes on your wireless network requires a clear understanding of wireless traffic patterns. Are you concerned about monitoring local or remote wireless traffic? Proper placement of your analysis tools is key to ensuring optimal visibility of your local and remote networks as well as meeting your overall monitoring objectives.
In the RF space, let's say you have to be 30 meters away from something, at a given power level, to communicate with it. Well, at the same power level, you can be 60 meters away from it and merely listen to what it's transmitting. Try using directional antennas to get coverage and a great, big, powerful ear for monitoring. Be smart about how you deploy.
Monitor WLAN Roll-outs to Ensure a Positive User Experience
Determine whether the users' experience is positive or negative by reviewing cumulative wireless metrics and other network-performance variables during deployment. By evaluating WLAN setups and overall link utilization, you can judge overall network performance and quickly make necessary adjustments during implementation. By continually monitoring wireless network performance and establishing benchmarks, you can define acceptable wireless network performance and know quickly when the wireless network falls below acceptable levels.
Use monitoring tools during your deployment to ensure a strong implementation. You can't just deploy wireless and walk away from it. Lots of things are going to affect the experience. It's a constantly changing environment.
A good real life experience was a wireless connection between two buildings was successfully deployed, with antennas mounted on the side of the buildings. The users were happy when it was installed, but gradually the connection became sporadic, then worse and worse. Finally, they did a line-of-sight survey. What had happened was a tree had grown up between the two points, blocking the connection. This example reinforces the fact that you have to stay on top of the environment.
A good monitoring utility is Network Instruments' Observer platform, which lets you look at your wireless network right next to your wired network. That kind of coexistence is important to a healthy wireless environment. I am sure there are other monitoring tools that can be used such as those offered by Open Source projects
Windows IT Pro - Retrieved on 9 September 2007