This chapter discusses how to design a wireless network, and includes the following sections:
- Making the Business Case
- Wireless Technology Overview
- Wireless Security
- Wireless Management
- Wireless Design Considerations
This chapter discusses wireless LAN (WLAN) technology and describes how it improves mobility. After introducing WLANs as strategic assets to corporate networks, we discuss WLAN standards and components. The security and management of WLANs are explored, followed by design considerations for WLANs.
Making the Business Case
The popularity of WLANs is undeniable. The following three main driving forces play in favor of WLANs:
- Increased productivity
- Cost savings compared to wired deployment
WLANs let users access servers, printers, and other network resources regardless of their location, within the wireless reach. This flexibility means that, for example, a user's laptop stays connected working from a colleague's cubicle, from a small meeting room, or from the cafeteria. Recognizing the benefits brought about by WLAN flexibility, businesses are now deploying WLANs in record numbers.
According to a 2003 NOP World research study, WLAN users stayed connected to their corporate network 3.64 hours per day longer than their wired peers, thus increasing their productivity by 27 percent. Through the flexibility of WLANs, not only does the productivity go up, but the response times are also significantly improved.
The benefits of wireless mobility don't stop at laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs). IP telephony and videoconferencing are also supported over WLANs, integrating quality of service (QoS) to ensure that the interactive traffic has priority over the less-time-sensitive data transfers.
Another significant benefit of WLANs is their low-cost deployment in locations where the costs of running LAN wire would be prohibitive. The total cost of ownership (TCO) of a WLAN is very low compared to the benefits they bring to an organization, providing that a WLAN is secured and managed properly.
Companies that are not deploying WLANs quickly enough find that employees take the matter in their own hands and install their own WLANs, potentially creating significant breaches in the corporate network security infrastructure. Therefore, wireless security is an important topic to discuss in conjunction with wireless design.
WLANs, seen just a few years ago as a novelty, are now seen as critical to corporate productivity.