Why Your Network Is Not Prepared to Handle the Load… (you put on it!)
Today’s user is mobile, and that user expects (and in fact, demands) excellent wireless access and speeds from anywhere at any time. What the user does not expect is to have to jump through hurdles to logon to the local network.
Because of these consumer demands, wireless has in fact replaced wired as the primary or default access vehicle for essentially all users in essentially every organization around the world. The long history of Wi-Fi has been defined by steady advances in performance, price/performance, reliability, security, management, and, really, all of the capabilities required of any networking or IT service today.
“Your system demands network upgrades, often on a large scale, to keep pace with growing demands for both coverage and capacity.”
With the arrival and now very rapid adoption of products based on the recently-ratified IEEE 802.11ac standard, these trends further advance with a technology. They are meeting the challenge of dramatically-increasing demand being seen everywhere today, driven by ever-more users, often with multiple devices (this in large measure a function of the corresponding trend towards BYOD) expecting ubiquitous coverage and capacity suitable to support every application. This includes those requiring time-bounded services as well. And, let’s not forget, today’s preferred client devices, primarily handsets and tablets, have no native means for plugging into a traditional wired network regardless, and their fundamental utility and value would be severely compromised if such a requirement for wired connectivity were present.
Still, challenges remain. Your system demands network upgrades, often on a large scale, to keep pace with growing demands for both coverage and capacity. BYOD requires easy onboarding and end-user-centric, self-service identity management solutions. The range of mobile devices that need to be supported continues to grow, and diversity in mobile operating systems can further burden already-overworked IT staff.
As we noted above, many applications have requirements for time-boundedness, most notably voice telephony (particularly in the form of unified communications) and streaming video. An individual user of might not represent much load on a bits-per-second basis, but numerous, simultaneous users demanding network headroom could bring a system to its knees. And, of course, all of this diversity demands new visibility and analytical capabilities to be able to predict peak loads and maintain high performance.
Networks are cheap; it’s the users who are expensive. Networks represent the circulatory system of the organization; insufficient flow here means that employee productivity is being lost. Today’s users demand a better experience which in turn translates into reliable network performance and access to the applications your employees use to do their jobs better.
The sad truth is the most networks are not equipped to handle the demand or load on the network. So, what should a network administrator or business decision maker consider when implementing a solid, built-to-perform network?
Implementing a Solid, Built-to-Perform Network:
Since WLAN systems are primarily designed to move data from wireless clients to the remainder of the network, efficiency and optimal design requirements extend well beyond the internet alone. Of often-underestimated importance here is the Control Plane, which functions as the “operating system” of the wireless LAN. Efficiency and optimization here can yield dramatic improvements in throughput and capacity.
Management Systems and Beyond
Of equal importance with the Control Plane is the Management Plane, which incorporates numerous essential functional elements from planning through configuration, deployment, optimization, alerts and alarms, assurance (including security), monitoring, and much more. It’s convenient to think of the Management Plane as the “front panel” of the Control Plane, setting policies that are optimally executed in operation. Unified wired/wireless management is also increasingly important, especially from an ease-of-use perspective as networks continue to grow larger.
“Management” today extends well beyond the ad-hoc legacy of data and spreadsheets to advanced big-data analytics that help uncover both problems and opportunities that would otherwise remain hidden even in contemporary large-scale deployments. An excellent example here is Extreme Networks’ Purview tool, which we’ve used ourselves to illuminate and understand – with remarkable ease – the complex behaviors often seen in high-capacity wireless and wired networks today.
Discover what makes a built-to-perform wireless network: