Wi-Fi for the Modern Workplace
A quality wi-fi connection has become a necessity in today’s business. Whether it’s providing connectivity for guests, allowing workers to easily roam from their desks, or connecting your entire warehouse management solution, you will find wi-fi is an essential part of your business. Many businesses have not yet invested in a business-class wi-fi system. This would allow for quality connectivity, proper security options, ease of management and the reporting capabilities allowing for quick insight into their network. Below we’re going to explore options that can provide all these things and more at a budget-conscious price point.
Most businesses accept the need for in-office wi-fi, but few think about it beyond the basic connectivity. At best they might have a solution that’s bundled in with their ISP’s hardware or they possibly have their own hardware that they use as a combo firewall to provide wi-fi. At worst they could have nothing more than a few residential class wireless routers spread around the office. While these options certainly provide basic connectivity, a wide variety of functionality from both a management and security standpoint is being left out. So, what could be better?
User and Device Management:
Many business-class wi-fi systems offer improved user management. If you utilize Windows Active-directory you can leverage Radius Authentication to control wi-fi access by individual user accounts. So when people connect, rather than using a generic key that anyone can know, they would use their normal network credentials. This often ties into reporting as well so that you can view activity on a per-user basis.
You can also limit access based on certificates. Using this method you distribute an SSL certificate to all systems that you want to connect and use this certificate to authenticate the user. Users don’t have to know a key or password to gain access, the certificate handles that for them. This way Administrators can be sure that only authorized systems are connecting to the network.
Multiple Wi-Fi Networks:
Most residential and ISP provided routers are limited to a single network. This is fine for home use, but in a business environment, you may find it beneficial from both a performance and security standpoint to have separate wi-fi networks for different purposes. You may have a warehouse environment with handheld scanners that you want to keep separate from your general office traffic. You may have need for a hospitality network, but you don’t want to intermingle the traffic. A good business class wi-fi deployment will allow you to configure multiple networks and apply various controls to each network independently.
Do you frequently have visitors in your workplace that need connectivity? If so, then chances are they’re being given access to the same network that you use for business connectivity. This can lead to a host of problems from security to performance. By creating a guest network you can still give visitors the access they need while keeping them away from your business network. Typically, guest systems will have protocol in place that manages and updates the passwords automatically. This ensures that the passwords are changed regularly and businesses don’t have to worry about a shared key getting spread around undesirably.
Reporting and Monitoring
Most modern wi-fi systems have robust reporting and monitoring. You can create automatic alerts around performance so that you can know ahead of time when your connectivity is being spread too thin. You can also create regular reports to gain insight into how your wi-fi network is being used.
You can also get reports on specific devices so that you can identify a device that may be having issues causing it to saturate your network. Or perhaps you will find a system that has been infected with malware and is spamming emails out from your network. With individual per-device traffic stats you can easily identify rogue systems.
Another benefit of modern wi-fi systems comes in the form of system management. You can typically manage multiple devices from a single pane of glass. This allows you to very easily see the status of these devices, make individual changes, and even manage firmware updates quickly and easily.
These are just some of the potential benefits you can find by leveraging a modern business class wi-fi system. We hope you’ve found this tip useful! As always, if you’re interested in improving or securing wi-fi for your business, Abel Solutions is here to help.
This tip written by Abel Solutions IT Services Manager, Jason Casteel.