Archive for the ‘WLAN vendor selection’ Tag

The Next Great Wireless LAN Vendor

I wrote this as a guest post for An Information Security Place, but republished here for my readers.

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Yesterday was one of the few days that I bought a hard copy of the USA Today newspaper.  I get the Arizona Republic paper delivered to the house daily. I even get six copies of the Sunday paper  (don’t ask…)  I bought it because one headline on the cover page of the USA Today caught my attention.  It was “Who Might Rise From the Wreckage” with a subtitle of “It’s happened before – Cisco and MySpace emerged in tough times.  Tech can bloom again“.

The headline and subtitle brought up a good point.   In the economic crash of the late 1980’s, Cisco began it’s rise as one of the large tech companies.  The article mentions Facebook and MySpace as companies who had a similar rise after the dot-com crash.  Personally, I remember two *other* (more relevant to networking) companies who accomplished a similar jump in market share in the wake of the dot-com crash – Foundry Networks and Extreme Networks.

This economic downturn presents the same opportunity for tech companies to rise out of the aftermath stronger than when they entered.  Who are likely candidates this go-around?   I would suggest that the opportunity is particularly ripe for Wireless LAN vendors.

Why?  There are several reasons WLAN manufacturers have an opportunity to grab market share in this economy, especially compared to their wired counterparts.  Most reasons point back to the fact that organizations are now forced to do more with less.

During these times companies…

  • need to get more out of their employees – WLANs enable their employees to be connected everywhere in their enterprise all the time
  • will not want to invest in permanent infrastructure – WLANs can easily be moved from location to location vs. desktop switches / cabling
  • will want even tighter security because of dismissed employees and competitive pressures – WLANs allow for easy deployment of 802.1X port based authentication and can execute rapid adds and deletes

Which WLAN vendor is poised to take advantage of such a situation?  Aerohive? Bluesocket? Meru? Rukus? Xirrus?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!  Be sure to state specific reasons that you think one vendor will be able to gain more market share than another.  Also, if you like this post, check out my blog for related info such as 50 Questions K-12 School Districts Should Ask WLAN Vendors.

WiFi Jedi

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50 Questions K-12 School Districts Should Ask WLAN Vendors

Lately, I have been working on a large, district wide wireless implementation here in Phoenix.  It has served as inspiration for several blog posts about pre-implementation planning, as well as the importance of taking notes during system installation.

Working on this project sparked another thought – how do K-12 School Districts choose their wireless vendor in the first place?  What should they consider in vendor selection?  Below is my list of 50 questions districts should ask prospective WLAN vendors. After reading the list below, are there any questions you think I missed?

General

  • Does WLAN vendor support all standard LAN and WLAN standards without proprietary solutions or protocols that will limit the ability to expand the Wi-Fi network?
  • Can the vendor provide like type references?
  • Is the platform, firmware, and software upgradable to support future evolution of the 802.11 standard (i.e. 802.11n, 802.v, 802.11w, etc.)?

Site Surveys

  • Does the vendor provide site survey services?
  • Is there a separate cost for this?
  • Does the vendor perform the survey?
  • Is the same equipment to be deployed used for the survey?
  • Is it a live survey, vs. just predictive software?
  • Do they perform a Spectrum Analysis to identify possible noise sources?
  • Do they guarantee the results?
  • Will they provide heat maps of the coverage?

Product Installation

  • Will the vendor do the install?
  • Is the installation free?

Support Services

  • Does the vendor directly support their products or is support via a 3rd party?
  • Does the vendor offer free on-site customer training on their product?

Coverage

  • Is Access point able to support all 802.11a channels (extended channels)?
  • Is access point able to simultaneously support 802.11 a/b/g radios?
  • Does the Access Point offer integrated high gain antennas for greater range?

Bandwidth and Supported Channels

  • How much bandwidth does each device provide via 802.11b?
  • How much bandwidth does each device provide via 802.11g?
  • How much bandwidth does each device provide via 802.11a?
  • How much bandwidth does each device provide via 802.11n?

Capacity

  • Does the Access Point support multiple (4 or more) independent radios?
  • Does the Access Point offer a sectored antenna architecture, which equals higher data rates at longer ranges?

Security

  • Are the following security services supported:
    • WEP, WPA & WPA2?
    • Authentication: Open, MAC, 802.1x, Web Page Redirect?
    • Integrated Stateful Firewall in the AP?
    • Integrated RADIUS server in the AP?
    • Integrated IDS/IPS sensor?

System Design

  • Is switching performed at the Access Point?
  • Is QoS tagging applied at access point?
  • Is Filtering/Firewall Policies applied at Access point?
  • Is encryption/decryption performed at the Access Point?
  • If encryption/decryption performed at controller how many APs can it support before being oversubscribed?
  • Are Wireless Distribution Services (WDS) available in the AP?

High Availability

  • Do proposed APs offer redundant uplink ports?
  • Is Radio-to-Radio failover available?

Power

  • Is Direct AC power supported?
  • Is POE over Gigabit connections supported?
  • Does the AP support AC/DC redundancy?

RF Management Tools

  • Does the proposed system offer an Integrated Spectrum Analyzer?
  • Does the proposed system offer Auto Cell Sizing?
  • Does the proposed system offer Auto Load Balancing?
  • Does the proposed system offer Auto Channel Selection?

System Management Tools

  • Does the proposed system offer Serial/CLI management?
  • Does the proposed system offer Centralized SNMP management?
  • Does the proposed system offer Web Based Management?
  • Does the proposed system offer Management over the air?
  • Does the proposed system offer Secure Management (SSH, HTTPS, etc.)?
  • Can management traffic be disabled on all interfaces?

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