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Cutting Wires, Costs: A Look at Creating Wireless Efficiencies

Wireless network infrastructure - for anyone in business, it’s a necessary evil and, perhaps ironically, one that isn’t short on infrastructure. You need a controller and wireless routers or access points - lots of them – enabling wireless networks to join an existing wired network. You’ll have to invest in a site planner/survey tool, or risk incorrectly guessing where the APs should go.

Users need to learn the new WLAN management system, integrate it into the server/LDAP and figure out how to not only add security, but maintain appropriate defenses against sophisticated and rapidly evolving threats.

Access points and routers often rely on Wi-Fi wireless antennae, which can greatly expand the range of the wireless signal. And then there are wireless repeaters - aka signal boosters or range expanders - that connect to a router or access point and serve as a two-way relay station for the wireless signal.

It all adds up to copious hardware and far more “wires” than a user would care to count. For most, these infrastructure requirements will be cumbersome and costly. They will deplete ROI and cause headaches around configuration, security and performance.

So what’s an organization to do?

The first step is soliciting the right person to help. In this case, a business decision-maker looks at the entire picture, not only identifying technical needs and challenges, but contextualizing where and how a Wi-Fi solution makes the most business sense within the overarching IT architecture.

Efficiency is a key consideration to accelerate productivity and performance. Users can elevate efficiency via consolidation by combining multiple functions into one solution.

A key function in any wireless environment will be security. Users can incorporate standard security technologies such as firewall, VPN and traffic-shaping, as well as intrusion prevention, Web-filtering, antispam and antivirus.

Another is scalability. A comprehensive, feature-rich Wi-Fi network might be a wonderful investment, but it will fall short on ROI if it can’t grow with the organization’s needs. A complete Wi-Fi solution needs to include a wide selection of access points and wireless controllers as well as support for centralized and distributed AP deployments. While it may seem like a significant investment up-front, it will pay off down the road when the organization can expand without incurring mighty upgrade costs or infrastructure overhauls.

Organizations will also want to weigh simplicity via an intuitive, “single-pane” management interface that gives IT administrators a comprehensive view of their organization’s network environment. Not all customers are the same, though, and neither are their management needs. A true cost-cutting wireless solution should feature management interface options, including wireless broadband and ADSL-A to ease deployment, monitoring and other management functions.

Ultimately, qualities that shouldn’t be overlooked are flexibility, simplified management and control and single policy enforcement. When totaled, it allows an organization to make decisions more accurately and take appropriate actions swiftly and more effectively.

In short, an efficient and cost-effective wireless solution comes down to total cost of ownership. No matter how you look at it, deploying and maintaining a wireless network is a significant undertaking. But like anything else, there are ways to spur efficiencies that save time and money. It just requires thinking beyond convention and a little creativity.

Source: Fortinet

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