Many organizations invested in wireless networking several years ago, when the wireless LAN (WLAN) was a “nice to have” technology for a handful of users. To say that times have changed is an understatement. Today, the WLAN is the network, providing access to applications, data and a host of other services to an ever-growing array of mobile devices.
Whether an organization embraces this “new normal” is largely irrelevant. Users have grown to expect anytime, anywhere connectivity, and will become very frustrated if you don’t provide it.
Employees are using an average of three wireless devices to perform job functions. Those devices are being used in offices, conference rooms and other areas of your facility to access important business applications, including real-time, bandwidth-hungry collaboration tools such as voice and videoconferencing. Customers are just as connected, which is why they expect the fast decisions and seamless customer service that mobile enables.
The Wi-Fi technology that forms the basis of the WLAN is advancing rapidly to keep up with these demands. If your WLAN is based upon the 802.11g or older protocol, it is obsolete and needs to be upgraded. Even 802.11n networks may lack the bandwidth needed to support increasing device densities and application requirements. Simply put, if your WLAN is more than a few years old it is probably time for a refresh.
Upgrading your WLAN hardware and software delivers a number of benefits, including:
- Improved Performance.A modern Wi-Fi network delivers performance comparable to the wired network, and provides the speed and bandwidth needed to support latency-sensitive applications such as voice and video.
- Expanded Capacity.By upgrading your WLAN, you will enable more users and devices to connect simultaneously without performance issues.
- Greater Reliability.Newer WLAN equipment is less prone to failure, minimizing the chance of a potentially devastating network outage.
- Streamlined Management.The latest solutions feature integrated management tools that make it easier to administer and maintain the WLAN.
Generally, the decision to upgrade is easy to justify when you consider reduced maintenance costs, increased productivity and better availability. A robust guest wireless network will also be attractive to customers who will appreciate the ability to stay connected when visiting your facility.
Upgrading your WLAN isn’t as simple as picking up a new router and a few access points at the electronics store. Consumer-grade products do not have the security and access control capabilities of business-class solutions. The ability to create unique credentials for each user is essential in a business environment, as is the ability to segment different types of traffic to protect sensitive data. Business-class routers are also capable of prioritizing latency-sensitive traffic, improving performance through load balancing, and preventing dropped calls and choppy videoconferences.
Like every other component of the IT environment, Wi-Fi equipment has a lifecycle, and that lifecycle is getting shorter and shorter. Given the critical nature of wireless connectivity, the WLAN needs to be kept up-to-date in order to reduce risk and meet changing business requirements. Contact SSD for a no-obligation assessment of your WLAN and recommendations for an upgrade strategy.