Oct 24 2013

How Network Admins Should Prepare for BYOD and Mobility

The demand for wireless connectivity is poised for a sharp uptick in the next few years.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs are likely causing headaches for security teams, but that doesn’t mean that network teams are getting a free pass. Overwhelmingly, BYOD and mobility mean one thing: significantly more 802.11-based wireless usage, both in and out of the office.

BYOD isn’t the only driver behind the demand for increased wireless access, reliability and bandwidth. More notebook computers and even smartphones now use 3x3 multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technology based on 802.11n, offering traffic speeds of up to 450 megabits per second (and the even faster 802.11ac is just around the corner). The idea of a wireless alternative to traditional to-the-desk wiring is moving closer to reality. Whether wireless LANs are seen as a replacement or an adjunct doesn’t really matter: This technology is here to stay.

While wireless can reduce in-building wiring complexity, it comes with its own performance issues. Network managers need to begin thinking of wireless access points (APs) as more than just devices connected to a switch. The higher bandwidth available in 802.11n and 802.11ac makes an AP more like a switch itself.

When adding wireless into existing LANs, network managers should use virtual LAN-tagged ports for APs to simplify the task of differentiating classes of users, such as “guests” and “staff,” and ensure that sufficient bandwidth is available between the APs and the core.

If wireless APs are mixed into existing wiring closets, the overall edge and distribution layer architecture won’t change much unless the user population grows dramatically (for example, by adding hundreds or thousands of previously unserved guest users).

To learn more best practices, insights and strategies on routing and switching, read our "Ultimate Guide to Routing and Switching."