By Grant Burst CISSP, Head of Professional Services at Wick Hill
In recent years, we have seen the profile of Wi-Fi usage change from an overlay access network supporting a small number of users primarily using laptops, to Enterprise Wireless networks supporting connections from laptops, tablets and phones supplied by the company as well as the increase in BYOD
The Wi-Fi standards bodies have worked hard to develop new standards to satisfy these growing demands, moving from IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n to 802.11n to the upcoming 802.11ac supporting over 1Gbps data rates. IEEE 802.11ac also addresses the capacity issue by restricting usage to the 5GHz band, where seven times as much bandwidth is available versus the commonly congested 2.4GHz band.
So how do we manage all of this wireless data?
Wired networks provide high throughput with little in the way of overhead; in an enterprise community of wired clients, each user can expect to achieve a throughput of hundreds of Mbps from a Gigabit Ethernet network.
However, a Wireless network is based on a shared medium and is in general you would expect to see less than 5% of the capacity per user compared to the wired network.
- Optimisation is one way of managing the wireless network traffic to ensure that business critical traffic has priority over non critical traffic
- Device Optimisation, by detecting the type of device used and the OS, controls can be put in place to ensure which band (2.4GHz or 5 GHz) is utilised fully
- that the bandwidth is available and the Application control at the access point can reduce network traffic considerably freeing up valuable bandwidth
- Network Access Control can and should be used where ever possible to reduce the number of devices being connected to the wireless
- Access Control Management should provide automatic segregation of networks via SSID and VLAN. User accounts should be pre-configurable and allow users to create accounts for BYOD. This control not only gives visibility of account but also when needed the ability to configure user accounts on an ad hock basis
- Channel Optimisation, with 2.4GHz there are only three non-overlapping channels are available, this results in the ability to only use 3 access points in a given area without interference.
With 5GHz we have up to 24 non-overlapping channels (dependant on the county), this enables the use of high throughput Access points with either
1) High user station capacity with a high number of radios operating on separate channels
2) High bandwidth & throughput for intensive application using bonded channels
Now we have the throughput and bandwidth managed what do we do with it?
With all of these wireless devices, connecting to the wired network we find we have bottlenecks both internally and externally. The majority of enterprise networks designed and installed in the last 10 years are probably running 100MB at both the switch and the cabling. If we add up to 1GB of wireless data to this scenario then the bottlenecks will become more evident, resulting in a slow throughput for all connections both wired and wireless. In addition to the above internal issues, external traffic will also be affected and slowed down by the firewalls, routers and the network provided by the ISP
In the late 90s a major pharmaceutical I supported had spare bandwidth available on a 256k link between London and New York, however with today’s bandwidth hungry applications bandwidth is at a premium and although the price has been reduced by magnitudes there is only so much that can be done to reduce the problems caused by the bottlenecks.
Although I have mentioned FWLB Firewall Load Balancing before in a previous blog I thought it worth reiterating the benefits. With FWLB you are able to utilise 2 or more firewalls and links without the overhead of traditional Load / Link balancing options. This ensures that your applications get the throughput they require and your clients get the experience they expect
QOS Quality of Service gives the priority applications or devices a guaranteed minimum bandwidth when required, QOS is especially important with wireless phones utilising VOIP.
For more information on the benefits of optimised Wireless network call Wick Hill 01483 227600 and ask to speak to one of our optimisation experts
Learn how to get the most from your bandwidth with specialist training from Wick Hill here: www.wickhill.com/wickhill_training
Grant Burst is Head of Professional Services at Wick Hill, a value-added distributor specialising in secure infrastructure solutions. Grant been with Wick Hill since August 2005, and his responsibilities include end-user and reseller support, installations and consultancy, along with both pre- and post-sales project management. Grant’s career also includes long spells in engineering and support roles with Global Telcos and other IT companies, as well as freelance consultancy. He holds a wide range of vendor and technical certifications including CISSP, as well as being skilled in areas such as compliance, security management and network security in both gateway and endpoint scenarios