Intelligent Tech Channels Issue 17 - Page 45

INTELLIGENT MOBILE TECHNOLOGY As we prepare for this shift, we look at some mistakes that must be avoided. First step Wi-fi When it comes to Wi-Fi in the classroom, you must get buy-in from the right people. Meet with building management about installing a Wi-Fi solution to help professors use technology in their teaching. It is difficult for building management to visualise new Wi-Fi hardware. Bring access points and mounts that would be used in the classroom. One of the easiest supporters will be the professors. Professors are your best resource in acquiring funds for new Wi-Fi deployments. Once the service is requested by more teachers, the campus budget committee begins allocating more funds to the project. Everyone must have the common background to reach the end-goal with minimal pushback. Start here, with buy-in for any classroom Wi-Fi project. Blending technology It is almost a cardinal sin to install an access point that clashes with architectural design. Installing new Wi-Fi in historic buildings can be complicated and frustrating. The campus wants to maintain the original look and feel but you are tasked with ensuring the campus is moving forward with new technology. Ignoring the aesthetics of a building is the quickest way to get left out of future project planning. You will want to work with the architects and their team members to prevent less-than-ideal cabling locations. Help educate them on why you need access points placed according to a design. Giving the architects options shows them you are a resource willing to help lend to their architectural designs without compromising the quality of Wi-Fi. Plan and design The Achilles heel of Wi-Fi is one of no plan and design. Classrooms and lecture halls are dense with devices. Start by speaking with the professors. Understand how they want to use Wi-Fi. The challenges SMBs and wireless networks V ery few SMB owners have a fully functioning IT department. But they are still expected to provide modern and engaging experiences for their customers, using the latest technology. How many non-IT people know the first thing about how to set up and secure a network? Recent studies suggest that 66% of small to medium businesses consider the use of the cloud, applications and mobile devices to be a strategic priority. They recognise that they stand a good chance of improving their customer experience by making such investments. A truly robust network requires you to manage filtering for a million websites, create individual user profiles and set security protocols for different applications. That is too much for many business owners, so they need management tools and software that does the hard work for them. For an SMB, the wireless solution should be able to handle any business application easily. It has to accommodate a growing number of mobile users and have built-in security as a given. This is why straightforward set up and quick, precise remote monitoring and troubleshooting should be a feature for all new technology made available to the SMB. are increased with students bringing in their own devices, creating a BYOD environment. Wi-Fi is being used to create an interactive learning experience. The approach we must take is to design and architect a Wi-Fi network to meet the requirements of classroom activities using capacity planning, predictive and validation surveys, and the selection of proper antennas and mounting solutions. You would not build a house without planning it and making a blueprint first. Incorrect configuration The most common mistake in configuration is to allow a WLAN system to automatically make configuration decisions without tuning. Many engineers leave auto-RF settings to their defaults. Configuration must be based upon the design for the classroom. And knowing what exactly those knobs do is just as critical as the design. Understand what results there may be for specific settings, such as using higher minimum data rates, disabling low data rates, transmit power selections, wider channel widths, and others. Poor configuration and optimisation will lead to a poor user experience. Upon completing configuration, perform a validation survey to ensure the deployment matches the design and meets the requirements. Monitoring dashboard Working with unlicensed spectrum will gather its own set of issues. In order to support teaching and learning in the classrooms we must be proactive. Having no monitoring in place is a big mistake for a large environment supporting professors and students. There are certain metrics and thresholds to monitor which will indicate the overall health of the Wi-Fi network. More advanced tools can drill in further to specific access points and groups of access points for accurate results down to near real-time. Monitoring will reveal issues which may not be apparent to the end users. Issues such as retry rates, poor roaming, and average throughput. Have a system which can monitor end user experience so IT can respond quickly. Wi-Fi is not a set and forget it technology. The unlicensed spectrum is susceptible to a variety of issues. We must treat it as a lifecycle, from planning to design, configuration, monitoring, optimisation, and back again to planning.  45