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WLAN management

Navigating the bewildering maze

We are at the dawn of a new digital age with new technologies producing and exchanging increasing amounts of actionable data. Never before has managing the reliability and performance of wireless networks been so critical to modern-day teaching.

Large school and college networks need careful management if they are to maintain optimum performance. When evaluating WLAN network management software, the following key system management functions should be considered:

WLAN planning tools — to allow network managers to more easily and accurately plan, design, deploy and manage WLAN networks.

Automated deployment and operation — to reduce the risk of errors that a manual configuration could introduce.

Monitoring and control — to allow network managers to monitor and control RF coverage and performance, access point user loads, throughput and system performance.

Optimisation and scalability — enabling rapid scaling as demand for APs increases over time.

Reporting and logging — recording changes to configuration and recordable ‘events’ so that network behaviours can be reported over time.

RF spectrum management — to help with reconfiguring RF parameters if an AP fails, a new AP added or outside interference is detected.

Security — including setting policies, firewalls, RADIUS authentication, intrusion detection, rogue APs, ad-hoc client detection, and spoofed SSIDs.

Mobility management — supporting roaming between APs, load balancing and session persistence.

Troubleshooting and remediation — including alerts, alarms, reliability services and interfacing with external management systems (SysLog).

Accessible interface — ideally with a browser interface to allow access from mobile devices (captive portal).

Managing voice services (VoFi, or VoIP over WiFi) — including capacity planning, coverage verification, traffic monitoring, call admission control and interfaces to IP PBX services.

Location and tracking — including asset tracking, personnel location, etc.

Visitor and guest access — enabling visitors to log in with temporary credentials and enabling client isolation or limiting connection time.

Multi-site management — with the ability to manage WLANs across multiple floors and buildings, the campus, and even multiple sites.