Wireless networking gives users the mobility to work virtually anywhere — at their desk, in a conference room, at the airport, in a coffee shop or at their home office. Wi-Fi is no longer considered a luxury, but a necessity, with nearly 100% of notebooks including wireless. Businesses also recognize the value of mobile computing and wireless networking. Wireless LANs increase employee productivity, lower the cost of adds, moves and changes; and facilitate applications like mobile POS terminals and wireless VoIP.
Network managers need to support these new users, new networks, new technologies and new applications, all while still delivering the network reliability and security users and business managers demand. Keeping control of a wireless LAN, that by design is constantly changing, requires an end-to-end management approach focused on each phase of the wireless lifecycle. The wireless lifecycle involves distinct and interrelated phases: pre-deployment and expansion planning, installation and verification, troubleshooting, and management and optimization.
To navigate through each wireless lifecycle phase successfully and efficiently, a network manager needs tools that provide features and functions specific to the unique requirements of each phase of this wireless lifecycle. Wireless LAN solutions need to deliver complete network visibility to help successfully manage a network's wireless lifecycle.
Wireless Lifecycle Phases
1. Pre-deployment and expansion planning
The first phase of the wireless lifecycle is preparing for the deployment of a new wireless network or the expansion of an existing wireless LAN. Site survey tools allow you to simulate a wireless LAN before purchasing a single access point. Import a map of your site and add virtual access points, virtual walls and other features. Determine the correct quantity and placement of access points required to meet your performance criteria. RF spectrum analyzers can help detect, identify and locate RF interfering devices with cause over 66% of all wireless LAN problems. Performing a site survey and RF frequency sweep can reduce deployment time, minimize re-work, and reduce overall deployment and implementation costs.
2. Installation and verification
After deployment, walk your site with a site survey tool to verify actual wireless coverage and performance. Check 802.11a/b/g channels, RF metrics and correlate the measurements to site locations. Identify the areas within your site that do not meet your performance criteria. Save these visualizations to document the baseline condition of your wireless network.
3. Troubleshooting and Security
There are a lot of wires in a wireless LAN — from access point to switch to server to router. You need to analyze both the wired and a/b/g wireless networks so you can identify problems on both sides of the access point. Portable analyzers can discover active networks, mobile clients and access points. These tools can also help see configuration details, troubleshoot wireless LAN connectivity, authentication and performance issues. Unauthorized rogue devices and unprotected access points create wireless security vulnerabilities. Detect, identify and located rogue devices with a portable analyzer. RF interference causes over 66% of all wireless network issues. An RF spectrum analyzer can help you detect, identify, and locate non-network devices causing interference issue. A periodic survey is recommended to scan the network for changes that could indicate a security breach.
4. Management and optimization
Site survey tools can indicate the optimal access point placement to achieve the best performance. Portable analyzers should be chosen that have the necessary utilities for network and device management – with web browser, telnet and terminal emulation functionality. RF spectrum analyzers can help you determine if new types of RF interference have appeared so you can detect, identify, and locate the interfering devices before they cause issues with your wireless network.