Ongoing Management and Troubleshooting Of Enterprise Wi-Fi Networks
Particularly in education, it is vital for the WLAN to be easy to troubleshoot. In many cases, the consumer mobile devices being used in the classroom, whether school-owned or BYOD, are optimized for battery life, not for radio transmission; unfortunately, the end user will not be aware of that. All users will see is that the wireless network isn’t working! It is important to be able to visualize the problem without RF expertise and to quickly track down the primary issue.
The optimal WLAN will be one in which it is easy to see the cause of a problem without having to crawl through heaps of incomprehensible, RF-centric logs. AP and user performance should be easy to find quickly and should enable the speedy pinpointing of the issue, which may not be related to the wireless network at all. It is important for the WLAN to provide a means to view a problem all the way down to client-level statistics for faster, more accurate problem isolation even at remote locations.
In addition to monitoring your own network, select vendors have also introduced comparative analytics to allow customers to anonymously and dynamically to compare infrastructure and client metrics to similar-sized deployments and/or industries to help you proactively determine if and where to focus corrective or optimization efforts. Comparative Analytics capabilities allow IT professionals to accurately compare key infrastructure and client metrics both dynamically and over time. Aerohive launched comparative analytics earlier this year.
Today’s Wireless LAN offerings can give schools tremendous power to enhance the overall learning experience. Deployed correctly, Wi-Fi can help students use their own devices to learn in new and different ways. Teachers can look to modern curricula and use new tools to involve classes in ways that have never been possible before. Administrators can see what’s really happening on the school network, enabling them to visualize problems before they happen and to plan without overprovisioning.
Perhaps best of all, IT can finally have a network that can be configured to maintain security and privacy, while automating processes to the greatest degree possible. Your Wi-Fi network can tie your entire district network together, with unified wired and wireless policies that can be custom tailored at the touch of a button.
To get that Wi-Fi network, however, you need to ask the right questions. Keep in mind that over time, the operating and management expenses of running a distributed network will dwarf the capital expenditures of the original purchase. Look for a system that is enterprise-class to ensure that you can hone access control by groups, make the most of your authentication infrastructure, and properly segment users. You cannot do your job with less than enterprise-grade security, and it should be built into the system.
You must be able to easily obtain a snapshot view of the applications traversing your network—at the district level all the way to the classroom level—and create custom application signatures if required. And you must be able to immediately visualize and easily troubleshoot the network in order to minimize the time you spend keeping the lights on and maximize the time that you can look forward to what the next year will bring. Finally, once you have determined the Wi-Fi network that will help move your institution into the future, E-rate is making it easier to apply for—and qualify for—the dollars you need to make that network a reality now.
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