Is Your Network Ready for Office Work Environment?

December 3, 2015 / General, Standard and Certification, Installation and testing, Upgrading and troubleshooting, Industrial Networks

Today’s office environments are changing drastically in regards to where and how people work. Gone are the days of segregated work areas for each employee with siloed spaces featuring strictly wired connections for a computer and a phone.

Companies today are striving for more open, harmonious work environments and taking advantage of new trends such as collaborative work spaces, BYOD and a combination of work-from-home policies and office hoteling—the practice of reserving work space when needed rather than assigning permanent spaces to employees.

The key to making these new wide open office designs effectively become the new norm is technology—primarily wireless. Imagine the need to support a plethora of BYOD devices and manage the exponential demand on the Wi-Fi network while ensuring that only authorized devices have access.

And amidst these challenges, Wi-Fi is rapidly evolving from 802.11g and 802.11n to the latest next-generation 802.11ac gigabit Wi-Fi with future Wave 2 devices that will require more cabling, greater throughput and higher-power PoE.

It’s no surprise that network managers are concerned about whether their existing cabling infrastructure is robust enough to support the emerging technologies of open office designs and whether it is designed to ensure the right coverage and placement for wireless access points. Let’s take look at a few best practices that can help ease their minds.

Validation & Troubleshooting

Before connecting up additional devices to the physical infrastructure, validating the existing cabling’s ability to support new devices can help save time and frustration. In just four seconds, CableIQ can verify the cabling’s ability to support voice, VoIP and gigabit Ethernet. It is also a powerful troubleshooting tool, graphically mapping distance to faults, identifying what’s at the end of the cable and isolating isolate cabling issues from network problems.

And for those aiming for 802.11ac Wi-Fi as their eventual main source of office connectivity, it’s critical to ensure that PoE can be effectively delivered simultaneously with data over the same pairs. Proper DC resistance balance is the key to ensuring that data signals are not distorted in the presence of power.

As the first field tester capable of measuring DC resistance unbalance, the DSX-5000 CableAnalyzer is ideal for ensuring that the difference in resistance between two conductors is low enough to enable the common mode current needed to support PoE and maintain proper data transmission.

A Wireless Sanity Check

While the physical infrastructure continues to be one of the more common areas affecting network performance, sometimes a check of the air is needed—especially when BYOD users complain that they can’t connect or stay connected to the wireless network. With so many users in these dynamically changing workspace, maintaining security and only allowing authorized users has also become more challenging than ever.

Network managers would be wise to have Wi-Fi testing at their fingertips to detect and locate 802.11 a/b/g/ac devices, check signal strength, determine interference causes and quickly identify and locate wireless access points—whether authorized or rogue.

An AirCheck Wi-Fi tester offers a one-button AutoTest for quickly determining pass or fail of the wireless environment while identifying common signal strength problems. Aircheck for Windows is a low-cost software solution that runs on any Windows 7/8 platform for measuring signal strength, as well as true end user performance—including actual throughput for 802.11ac devices. To make the process even easier, AirCheck for Android can put these testing and troubleshooting capabilities in the palm of your hand—helping you to ensure a true BYOD-ready environment.

Last but Not Least

Ensuring that the physical infrastructure is up to par and the wireless network is strong and secure is vital to ensuring successful collaborative open office environments and trending BYOD policies. But as usual, behind the scenes remains one last consideration – the connectivity or network layer for a wireless access point. After all, what’s a wireless access point worth if it’s not communicating properly with its switch?

Linkrunner AT is ideal for verifying connectivity to WAPs and other network devices at gigabit speeds over copper, validating a switch’s PoE capabilities, and ensuring proper port and VLAN configurations.

While office environments may be changing, it’s obvious that the right tools can go a long way to helping you can keep up with the trends and ensure continuous staff productivity.