The ready availability of low-cost consumer access points (APs) can lead to small businesses taking a piecemeal approach to wireless networks and simply buying APs as and when they need them. It’s an approach that works, but only where you can get by with just one or two APs. It can lead to all sorts of problems in larger, fast growing organisations.
One of those problems is down to the evolving nature of wireless technology leading to interoperability issues where different APs, possibly from different vendors, are asked to work together. More importantly, access points are not like cabled switches which can, for the most part, be installed and left to get on with things by themselves. They need to be individually configured with the names of the required Wi-Fi networks, for example, together with vital security and traffic management settings to both protect those networks and optimise the limited wireless bandwidth they have to play with.
Where only a handful of access points are involved they can be configured individually, but it takes time and, as numbers grow, so does the amount of effort required. Getting all those network names, passwords, VLAN and other settings right every time can be very difficult and mistakes will inevitably arise, as anyone who has had to key in lengthy security passphrases will know. Mistakes that can, at best, lead to a network that doesn’t work as it should and, at worst, to compromised security and Wi-Fi open to all kinds of abuse.
Tackling this requires a co-ordinated and controlled approach to AP deployment which, using D-Link products, can be achieved in two ways.
The first is to take advantage of the self-configuring cluster technology built into our business-class APs. Here you simply configure a selected master access point and have its settings automatically applied to up to sixteen others. This alone can save hours of repetitive programming and avoid costly mistakes. However, it can only be scaled so far and larger networks will need a managed solution, coordinated through a central controller.
Naturally, we have just such a solution but, more than that, we have a family of unified managed switches that enable businesses to manage their wired and wireless networks together from a single console. Moreover, unlike some managed wireless products, D-Link unified switches can be used with all of our managed access points, so you can start small with a self-configuring cluster and upgrade later without having to replace the APs.
D-Link unified switches employ centrally managed profiles to guarantee consistency and security across wireless networks which can be made up of hundreds of access points. Our technology can also monitor those networks with tools, for example, to detect and isolate unauthorised access points, wireless routers and Wi-Fi hotspots. Similarly guest networks can be implemented and policed centrally with strict control over when guests are allowed in, what they can see and do.
Lastly, through close integration with the switch technology that drives the cabled LAN it becomes easier to manage traffic and user access across the entire network, no matter how large it becomes.