How to Develop a Strategy for Network Optimization
If we set out to watch a sunset, we know we have to wait for sundown. We certainly know we cannot rush it, so we relax and wait. We know patience is in the game plan. However, when it comes to WiFi, or more specifically, WLAN (Wireless Local Area Networks), patience is not part of the conversation.
On the contrary, we want and expect quick and reliable connectivity. With the ever-increasing number and diversity of devices (particularly mobile ones), this is a challenge. According to Globalwebindex, the average digital consumer owns 3.64 connected devices (as of Feb. 2016). Locations such as universities and hotels may well have a larger number of devices seeking connection.
Having a strategy, or a design, will position organizations and businesses to be able to “keep up” with the technological changes and continue to provide their end users (customers) with reliable and quick connectivity. When designing your network, whether you are building one from scratch or updating your existing, it is critical to employ a predictive design study. As explained by Stemxpert, predictive design (or modeling is) “the process of creating, testing and validating a model to best predict the probability of an outcome. A number of modeling methods from machine learning, artificial intelligence, and statistics. Predictive modeling is a commonly used statistical technique to predict future behavior.”
The “future behavior” in this scenario is, of course, the reliability and speed of your network. To accurately predict what you will need to optimize your WLAN design for the short and long-term, several things must be determined.
Knowing who your end-users are is critical. Each type of end-user will require a different set of resources depending on what they are using the network for. Establishing Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) will be an important first step. RBAC, as described by Rackspace, is “a secure method of restricting account access to authorized users. This method enables the account owner to add users to the account and assign each user to specific roles. Each role has specific permissions defined by Rackspace. RBAC allows users to perform various actions based on the scope of their assigned role.”
The next step in your plan should be to prioritize the applications that you anticipate your end users will be using. There are often two different types of applications on a network. One is entertainment or recreational (gaming, live streaming of video and movies, etc.). The other makes up the critical tasks that run your infrastructure and your organization (email, quality control applications, testing or monitoring, inventory, and the other myriad applications that keep the ship on course and running smooth).
This brings us back to consideration of the devices and a discussion of capacity. Different mobile devices obviously have different requirements, chip-sets, various operating systems, and power needs. Your network needs to be able to support all of them, or it will not be seen as reliable.
Your WLAN also needs to plan for present and future capacity. You must determine if your present access point distribution is adequate for the here and now, and what you will need for the future. Planned physical expansion, new buildings and increased number of end users must be taken into consideration, as well as the device trends experts are predicting and what applications they will be using.
If none of this sounds cheap, that’s because it isn’t; and that’s why you need to take planning and strategic thinking seriously and get it right the first time. The future end-user won’t care about your budget constraints and subsequent upgrade limitations. They will be expecting reliable and speedy connectivity. Having a strategy will help you get there.
Chief Information Officer
Apex Technology Group