With the rapid increase in everyone’s needs for mobility, wireless technologies are becoming more and more important all the time.
A well implemented wireless network improves productivity by providing employees with the tools to access their network wherever they are—whether at work, at home, or on the road.
A wireless infrastructure must take into account more than the ability to connect users to the network. Users have high expectations for service and quality and a variety of needs that must be met through wireless access. We’ve found a few best practices that can really help prepare organizations to build the wireless infrastructure that successfully supports their users’ needs as well as company objectives. There are lots of others, but the following is a good place to start.
- Form a Project Team: Like any big project, it’s important to ensure that you have the right people at the table when building the wireless strategy to ensure all requirements are met, increasing the success of the project. This group should include end user groups, IT, lines of business and facilities and most importantly, don’t forget the group that will be paying for the initiative.
- Evaluate the Devices Using the Network: Wireless isn’t just about the infrastructure, make sure you give a lot of attention to the devices that will be using the wireless network, as they can impact performance. Not all controllers are equal – sometimes you may find a solution that is less expensive but discover later on that it is actually not meant for commercial enterprise use so performance may be poorer than expected. In addition, device heterogeneity as we discussed on Softchoice Advisor recently, means that the increasing trend for BYOD or Bring Your Own Devices will result in greater needs to manage access levels to content and applications from multiple devices both owned by or issued to employees.
- Plan for User Adoption: Productivity is not found in the implementation of technology, but the adoption of the technology in your organization. A lot of time and focus should be spent understanding how wireless technology will impact the way your end users work, what processes will be impacted and what training will be required.
- Prepare for Process Adjustments: It isn’t over when the project is done. Wireless environments can also impact support groups. Give some thought to how your current support desk, or help desk, will be impacted by rolling out a wireless network. Make sure you have a strong support plan in place to help drive the success of your wireless project
- Uncover Hidden Costs: Cost is always a factor. You must be aware of how costs of new license based hardware will affect the network as you license different or more features. A recent example was a client who had a 5508 controller with 50 licenses and wanted to increase licensing to 100. So simple, right? Add another 50 licenses. But this increase in license also affected the annual Cisco Smartnet agreement and the Wireless Control System license agreement as well. In the end, total upgrade cost was almost twice what the client had been anticipating.
- Authentication and Authorization: This is a big topic and potentially big cost. You need to understand the difference between Authentication and Authorization and what it means when you tie a task into different authenticators. Authentication validates users identity and authorization confirms the authorization of services or devices to specified users.
We’re really just scratching the surface on a really big topic, but it is a place to start when thinking about implementing or growing your wireless network. In the meantime, here’s an interesting statistic to ponder….according to Cisco, by 2015 there will be nearly one mobile-connected device for every person on earth.
What’s your experience been? Do you have a best practice you’d like to add to our list?