Businesses use wireless local area networks (WLANs) or Wi-Fi to enable the efficient use of wireless devices in the workplace as well as offering internet access to visitors. They will have invested in LAN switches, routers and wireless access points to build their WLAN, but how long ago was that?
Just as wired local area networks are easily forgotten, so too is a WLAN. So long as it’s working, even if it’s not working as well as it used to, we just accept its lack of performance and crack on.
Ageing WLAN technology can compromise performance and productivity. Any IT infrastructure with hardware that is five or more years old may be missing out on the latest features and security updates.
Keep more devices connected
Technically, most legacy access points work on a protocol named 802.11n. More recent installations will be classified as 802.11ac which is more than five times faster at 3.46Gbps. However, it is the current products classified as 802.11ac wave 2 that deliver far better functionality and speeds for today’s business environments which see an increase in the number of Wi-Fi enabled devices that clutter the airwaves and cause issues on existing networks.
This new technology can keep more devices connected at a useable speed thanks to the innovative feature MU-MIMO, which stands for ‘multi-user - multi-input, multi-output’. This feature only became available with the release of ac wave 2 but has only really gained ground in the market in the last year or two.
Up-to-date WLANs combine high performance on-site hardware with cloud management. A “single pane of glass” dashboard gives visibility of all the network users, their devices and their application usage. Armed with rich analytics, administrators can quickly create access control and application usage policies to optimise both the end-user experience and network security.
IT teams can monitor WLANs on multiple sites from the same dashboard to eliminate the cost and complexity of traditional on-site WLAN controllers.
Meanwhile, you can ensure guest devices check in via a splash page or Facebook, for instance. For hospitality businesses, this can be vital to helping them collate email addresses for marketing purposes or to score more ‘likes’ on social media.
Once a WLAN’s hardware goes end of life, it will not benefit from manufacturer support or security updates. A modern WLAN is automatically updated from the cloud. As hackers invent new ways to infiltrate networks, new patches are applied to thwart their disruptive efforts.
In conjunction with firewalls and intrusion prevention (IPS) systems we provide the ability to keep networks secure, as threat definitions and filter lists are seamlessly updated, ensuring every site has protection from the latest vulnerabilities and troublesome websites.
If the switches supporting your WLAN are older 10/100 Mbps versions, then the speed your devices can operate may be 10 times slower. Today’s hardware is primed for 1Gbps speeds. If you are still using legacy IT infrastructure equipment, you could be needlessly frustrating your staff with slow access to corporate servers and the internet which will impact on their productivity.
Free access point to trial
We work with vendors such as Cisco Meraki and Ruckus to provide modern WLAN solutions that enjoy all the above. You can receive a free Cisco Meraki access point to keep and trial for your business by simply attending one of their educational webinars. Click here to register for our WAN webinar and experience the difference up-to-date hardware will make.
Meanwhile, if you need any further advice on updating and upgrading your WLAN, please do not hesitate to contact me.