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Embrace wireless

01 Jun 2010

Business interest in virtualisation and cloud computing across a range of industries continues to grow unabated as vendors, including VMware and Microsoft, make it easier for small, medium and large businesses to access these technologies via the channel.

At the heart of most virtualisation and cloud computing projects is a desire to maximise the efficiency and cost effectiveness of technology investments, while enabling the business to access a new and broader set of resources that support their growth strategies.

Like fashion, IT is going in cycles. With the virtualisation of our servers increasing availability and accessibility, and virtual desktops offering IT administrators greater levels of control over business application availability, thin computing devices are going to come back into favour. So why not connect them wirelessly?

Wireless technology has grown up. The ratification of the 802.11n wireless standard brings to the table faster speeds, greater reliability, better performance, and most importantly, more robust security. Some vendors have already been shipping this standard in ‘pre-n’ wireless for over three years.

IT managers can now stand hand-on-heart in front of their business owners and pledge that the wireless networks they are deploying are secure. And, that all staff will enjoy greater flexibility by connecting to newly virtualised resources from anywhere within the business. This flexibility will, in turn, drive a new level of efficiency. Wireless management tools have also greatly evolved and are no longer the domain of the enterprise. Importantly, they no longer come with an enterprise price tag!

IT managers wanting to simply and centrally manage a small number of access points can now do so very easily and very cost effectively. For example, there are wireless plug-and-play management tools that allow users to centrally manage up to five access points for around $150. That’s less expensive than the labour cost to configure them individually.

With the smarts in wireless controllers today, you can throw a bunch of access points into an office space and the controller will do the difficult thinking for you.

Even if you deployed up to 16 access points, you can now manage or control all of these for under $1000. This includes all the extra management tools and functionality required to manage the complexities of a larger wireless network such as the ability to:

  •   Define the channels per access point
  •   Easily manage RF performance
  •   Undertake load balancing for maximum user performance
  •   Enable, secure and control guest access to the internet over the business network
  •   Manage the network remotely via a smartphone or 3G-enabled tablet
  •   Identify and prevent rogue access points
  •   Undertake radius authentication

Traditionally, such management tools and functionality have required multi-thousand dollar investments and considerably more consulting time.

For networks with many users such as educational institutions or call centres, features such as load balancing between access points really come to the fore, to ensure the best user experience and connectivity performance. When you select your wireless networking kit, don’t forget to think about the Power Over Ethernet (POE) in your switches. Wireless ‘n’ access points are often gigabit, so make sure you install a Gigabit POE switch solution for the core of the network.

If you’re looking at a ‘green fields’ network refresh opportunity or want to generate an additional revenue stream and greater business enablement around virtualisation projects, then take a serious look at wireless technology as a means of providing greater flexibility to accessing network resources.

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