By Greg Gordon, Iron Bow Technologies
The funny thing about a company’s wireless needs is that they never get smaller. It usually starts with a couple conference rooms, then builds out a few floors until eventually the whole building needs wireless.
For businesses and government clients looking to scale up, it isn’t always as simple as it seems. I’m sure most people have set up home wireless systems and have a general understanding of how they work in a small setting. But this isn’t your home, so simply adding an extra access point (AP) here and there to clean up existing dead spots won’t get the job done.
I’ve seen a company start off with a wireless system that ran 25 APs in a couple buildings expand to hundreds of APs over five sites. But scaling that large comes with a lot of pitfalls and requires expert help.
The biggest benefit of letting the pros handle your wireless plan is that we can actually manage the full package of services for you. At Iron Bow, I’ve seen a significant increase in the demand for managed services across many sectors, not least of which is wireless.
By handing off the day-to-day responsibilities, an organization gets a dual benefit—highly trained experts monitoring the wireless systems, which frees up internal IT pros to tackle more mission-critical tech issues.
The not-so-simple goal of wireless is flawless connectivity in any space that’s enabled. But there are a lot of factors that influence everything from where APs should be placed to the type of material used in building construction and how people move in the workspace. Even weather patterns have a huge impact on wireless service.
Taking these factors and dozens of others into account, Iron Bow’s wireless managed services solution offers a holistic approach to wireless, looking at all of the elements—both physical and digital—that could cause barriers to connectivity.
The Need to Upgrade
Peeling back the walls of an aging wireless network can be a lot like inspecting an old house you’ve recently purchased. Hiding behind the figurative drywall could be a rat’s nest of hastily patched together updates, each more slap-dash than the next.
It’s understandable that wireless isn’t always the first concern of a fledgling company, but as it grows, a poorly-constructed network can be disastrous. At first, there are so few people on the network that things run smoothly, seemingly without any interruption.
But as more users are added, all the vulnerabilities of an inadequately-planned wireless network start to show. Put simply, scaling from 10 or 20 users to 100 will slow things down significantly. And for government agencies, which often have to build and manage systems with a small staff and a meager budget, the problem can be even worse.
A good engineer who specializes in wireless can go a long way toward making a network more efficient. As valuable as IT-generalists are for an organization’s overall tech strategy, having a specialist design and implement a wireless plan will save time, money and a lot of frustration in the long run.
Plus, once you get the basic setup working, wireless engineers like we have at Iron Bow are always on hand to scale up services as needed, making sure everything is in its right place. Iron Bow has a history of supporting engineering knowledge, so we have a lot of contact with the people who design the wireless components that make up our solutions. That means we know what performs best and how to work around any problems.
In one instance, a university in a remote area experienced consistently poor wireless connectivity. On top of that, heavy demand and a weather-related failure meant the school had to act quickly to get wireless access to students and faculty in 29 buildings and two large science laboratories.
Because of our vast knowledge and roots in the wireless community, Iron Bow knew exactly how to fix the problem. We implemented a solution that included self-healing access points and central management. With the new configuration, the IT team can now troubleshoot problems from anywhere on campus ensuring everyone has access to on-campus Wi-Fi.
The Future of Wireless Analytics
Now that we’re all caught up to speed, we have to look to the future. Nothing stops moving in the tech sector and wireless is no different. Monitoring and analytics have become the cutting edge of wireless. The better you can spot a problem, the easier it is to quell it before outages start affecting users.
For example, if the system notices a lot of resets in a certain part of the building, it can show what’s happening before things go sideways. Cisco is leading the way in this technology with its Meraki Access Point. The newest APs have monitoring technology built-in with sensors that essentially turn themselves into the client, giving real-time analytics. These new APs have become a cornerstone of Iron Bow’s wireless network planning strategy for its clients.
There’s a lot to think about when implementing or upgrading a wireless strategy, and it doesn’t always get the priority that cyber security or storage plans do, especially when an organization is young and still trying to figure everything out.
However, there are experts who can help, and know the best solutions to meet the individual needs of any company—whether an upstart or a behemoth. For more information on how to make the most out of your wireless network, check out our solutions at Iron Bow.
Tags: Cisco > cloud computing > legacy systems > NIST > wireless