May 14 2024
Networking

Why a Network Assessment Boosts Business Efficiency

Wi-Fi 6E provides higher throughput to businesses, but it’s important to assess the current state of network infrastructure before upgrading.

Networks are the backbone of many technology initiatives. In most companies, the network is what supports workflows, remote infrastructure and the seamless connection of IoT devices. As more organizations bridge the gap from on-premises storage to the cloud, having a strong network becomes even more important.

Not only does Wi-Fi 6E improve speed, capacity and security, but investing in these technologies is a way to future proof a business’s digital infrastructure.  Modern work environments call for a robust, reliable network, but before an organization can consider an upgrade, it needs to have a clear picture of its existing network ecosystem. This is where a network assessment comes in.

Click the banner below to learn how a network assessment can support your business.

 

The Benefits of Wi-Fi 6E for Businesses

Wi-Fi 6E provides several benefits for businesses. Operating in the 6-gigahertz band, it offers substantially more spectrum and less congestion and interference than the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands used by earlier Wi-Fi standards. This means businesses can experience immediate improvements in speed and reliability, which are crucial for bandwidth-intensive applications.

Wi-Fi 6E also offers four times the throughput of Wi-Fi 5 (or 802.11ac), says Luke Schiavone, CDW solution architect for networking. It also supports higher density, so access points can serve more people simultaneously. With Wi-Fi 6E, APs are more power-efficient, meaning they don’t need to draw as much power from network switches.

“Switching to Wi-Fi 6E can provide more coverage and help the organization better future proof its networks because it’s a newer technology,” says Schiavone.

Wi-Fi 6E includes stronger security measures. The wireless standard has implemented WPA3, a security protocol with more robust authentication than previous versions.

Luke Schiavone
Switching to Wi-Fi 6E can provide more coverage and help the organization better future proof its networks because it’s a newer technology.”

Luke Schiavone CDW Solution Architect for Networking

An Updated Network Means Better Business Continuity

“More times than not, you’re going to see corporations at the cutting edge because they have the money, flexibility and agility to jump into a new standard, whereas organizations that are getting tax dollars are going to wait until everything’s settled and other people have done it. They don’t want to be the first,” says Schiavone.

For those wondering whether it’s worth waiting until the release of a newer standard, there are several risks to that plan. For one, vendors may do things differently, and there could be a lack of interoperability before ratification of a new standard occurs. Wi-Fi 6E has been ratified, so newer devices will likely be compatible with it. Wi-Fi 7, though certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is not expected to be ratified until the end of the year.

“As newer standards are ratified and we move further down the road, you’re going to be able to use Wi-Fi 6E with more devices,” says Schiavone.

Adopting WiFi 6E also puts businesses in a position of technological readiness. It is equipped with the latest technologies, such as improved Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) and Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), which enhance network efficiency and responsiveness. This helps organizations gain a competitive edge in bandwidth, spectrum and operational efficiency.

Before Upgrading, Check for Device Compatibility

Before installing Wi-Fi 6E, IT teams need to ensure that all devices are compatible with the new standard and make sure their networking infrastructure supports it. Newer APs will have two connections so they can make full use of the expanded throughput.

However,  an organization with older network infrastructure may have only one wire available from each AP, meaning they may have to replace the AP with a newer one if they want to fully utilize Wi-Fi 6E’s capabilities. These prerequisite steps are all essential to make sure connections run as smoothly as possible.

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Work with a Tech Partner and Run a Network Assessment

Before starting any network upgrades, organizations should conduct a network assessment. Working with a technology partner such as CDW gives organizations access to networking experts who can help them assess their network’s current condition and create a modernization roadmap to achieve their desired end state.

An assessment can help IT teams determine if the upgrade requires any wiring changes or new AP placement, and if there are any existing dead spots on the site.

“The organization will be able to make a more informed decision about where they are and where they want to get to,” says Schiavone. “We can take them through that journey and help them decide whether they’ll jump in with both feet or do this modernization in sections. We help with strategy, planning and budgeting.”

Some companies may decide to add APs wherever they expect to need coverage as they grow over the years. However, this can lead to gaps in coverage. Schiavone recommends that businesses run a validation survey and create a predictive heat map, with the help of CDW, to anticipate any areas where coverage may be inconsistent. This will ensure that all areas have 100 percent utilization.

An assessment should be done as early as possible in the networking modernization process. This thorough review will give organizations deeper transparency into what’s going on in their network before money is spent on upgrades. CDW can help the organization map out a modernization strategy, whether wired or wireless, and determine which equipment is needed to enable Wi-Fi 6E connectivity and how to bolster any security vulnerabilities.

Many networks are vast and complex. Organizations that attempt to upgrade on their own may face consequences such as outages or network vulnerabilities. A trusted partner can shoulder this burden and help reduce these risks.

“At CDW, we talk to engineers to figure out what those gotchas are so we can bring the customer through this process with as little pain as possible to make it more successful,” says Schiavone.

“These upgrades are something that organizations will have to deal with sooner or later, and an assessment will absolutely help them to navigate those waters more smoothly. It will make for an easier transition than trying to figure it out all on their own.”

UP NEXT: How can business optimize their networks for modern work today?

photo credit: serts
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