When choosing a wireless local area network (LAN) for your business, you first need to look at your requirements.
Wireless networking needs analysis
It's best to carry out a networking needs analysis and focus on the following areas:
- Coverage - the area where you plan to operate the wireless devices. This can help you determine the number and location of wireless LAN access points.
- Mobility - how will users move through the coverage areas, and will the wireless signals be reliable throughout?
- Security - consider the level of protection that your networked data will need against certain threats. This will help you decide if you need to add particular components or technologies to your set up, eg wireless encryption.
- Compatibility - think about your existing systems, application and databases, and make sure that your wireless LAN solution is compatible.
- Users and devices - decide how many users and devices, and what type of devices, you wish to connect via the wireless LAN. You should also consider your funds and make sure that you choose a solution which is within your budget.
How to determine your networking requirements
When assessing the wireless networking requirements of your business, you should think about:
- goals for wireless communication - eg greater flexibility and employee satisfaction
- specific, measurable objectives for what you want to achieve - eg cost savings and increased efficiency
- the potential of the technology to improve the way you do business - including the potential for new products and services
- Consider what sort of wireless solution you need. Are there sites where installing cable networks would be a problem - eg listed buildings? Are there employees, such as salespeople, that require mobility?
- Talk to other businesses that have implemented wireless solutions.
- Think carefully about the security issues, such as the potential for 'hackers' or competitors to access or modify your company data.
- Compare the costs of wireless communication (such as software, installation and maintenance) with the business benefit you expect to get. If the main benefit is more efficient working, is the increased efficiency worth the cost?
You may wish to seek specialist advice from consultants, or equipment and service providers, on how to:
- outline your requirements
- establish how much you can afford to pay
- scope the project
- implement your plan
- organise training and software support
You must also consider the needs of your customers and business partners:
- Think through what your business partners/customers want and, in the case of close partners, examine the business systems that they have in place.
- If you are aiming to work wirelessly with partners/customers, can your business processes cost-effectively support all the wireless standards that they use? Will you be limiting your range by targeting only certain wireless users?
- Is it possible to adapt your wireless network to work with your partners' networks?
Find out how to assess your networking needs and requirements.