Embracing the new world of work with wireless?

Adrian Sadlier – Solutions Sales Manager, Kedington

Kedington’s Sadlier tells you what you need to know

From high-end laptops and smart phones to the growing Internet of Things, we are communicating more but using cables less. For the first time ever, the number of wired devices on a network is decreasing as the number of devices without Ethernet ports increases.

This has major implications for an organisation’s wireless strategy — assuming it has one. Early adopters installed wireless networks in meeting rooms, boardrooms or reception areas. These islands of wireless connectivity expanded over time, as a light overlay on the traditional wired network. They evolved, unplanned. This approach is no longer fit for purpose in a time of changing work habits. Wired networks alone will not deliver on the need for flexibility, mobility and agility; they are enabled by wireless but this needs reliable, high-bandwidth and secure connectivity. Wireless networks must be designed and planned properly.

To do this, you need to work with the right provider. Designing and implementing a wireless network requires a lot more skills in more diverse areas than often reside in a single company. A wireless network needs to coexist with and merge into a wired network, so you need expertise in both areas to deliver an infrastructure that is built to provide optimal wireless performance.

The first consideration is the cabling infrastructure itself that is in the fabric of the building. Here, you have got to plan for a lifespan of 15 years or more. Wireless networks need cabling and power, but CAT5 cabling — so long the standard in wired networks — is not suitable for running Power over Ethernet. Over the lifespan of your cabled infrastructure, bandwidth speeds will increase, and for this reason we recommend the use of CAT6a because it will not be a bottleneck to future network performance.

A holistic approach to design also calls for skills in radio frequency (RF) management. The old rule of thumb for wireless networks was to place a new access point (AP) every 15 metres or so. Remember, simply adding more access points doesn’t always lead to an improved wireless network. The number and location of APs must be planned carefully. Buildings aren’t always open plan; elements like furniture, people and walls need to be considered, as well as the number of floors — which means planning in three dimensions, not just two

Lastly, consider what applications you run, because the wireless network has to be able to recognise and prioritise traffic so as to deliver it appropriately. A second or two’s wait is acceptable for an inbound email, but delay and jitter will kill voice and video calls over wireless networks. Walking and talking on a wireless network is not easily implemented.

In summary, there are multiple disciplines needed to design, install and support wireless networks: physical connectivity for the access points, RF expertise, network connectivity, security knowledge, and project management.

At Kedington, those skills all reside in one company. We are a HP Gold Partner, working with the leader in software-defined networking. HP’s portfolio has also been significantly enhanced with its acquisition of Aruba, the leader in Wi-Fi solutions. Industry consolidation like this is a perfect example of how wired and wireless networks are becoming integrated. If you’re interested in taking a similarly strategic approach with your wireless infrastructure, a conversation with Kedington may be worth considering.
Adrian Sadlier is solutions division sales manager with Kedington.