Planning and Deploying Wi-Fi with SteelConnect


In my previous blog, I wrote about how SteelConnect lets a network administrator configure and broadcast wireless networks easily, in a matter of a few minutes. But, that’s only half the job of deploying enterprise Wi-Fi. The other half is planning the coverage and capacity needs of the organization and determining distribution of access points at each site for optimal wireless coverage. This requires good knowledge of the capabilities of access points being deployed and radio frequency propagation fundamentals in general.

Wi-Fi propagation is a complex subject and getting it just right is sometimes tricky. Reflection, Refraction, Scattering, Diffraction, and Absorption of radio frequency waves by surrounding media are phenomena that, though make perfect sense in theory, can be rather complex to comprehend in practice when planning access point placement. Especially, in office spaces. Many a time, network engineers do not know the coverage and capacity capabilities of the access points they intend to deploy at their sites and have to guess how many to use, or where to deploy them. One alternative to this guesstimating is investing in rather expensive Wi-Fi planning tools and conducting site surveys at each site of the organization in the network design phase. This process can be laborious, time-taking and often cost prohibitive to an organization. 

Riverbed SteelConnect offers a solution.

SteelConnect provides a software-defined and application-defined connectivity fabric that spans WANs, cloud infrastructure networks as well as remote office LANs- both wired and wireless. SteelConnect’s cloud console manager is a single pane of glass that also has an integrated Wi-Fi site survey and floor planning tool that eliminates the need for a separate site survey tool. With this integrated tool, site surveys can be performed from the web console of the SteelConnect Manager by the network administrator in a matter of minutes. This saves the organization significant investment in third-party Wi-Fi planning tools and IT personnel conducting site surveys.

At the very design phase, the network administrator can upload custom floor plans, set a scale, and drop SteelConnect access points as ‘Shadow Appliances’ on the map of the floor plan of a site to determine optimal Wi-Fi coverage patterns for that site.

A ‘Shadow Appliance’ is a cardboard cutout representation of an actual appliance that allows the network architect to design a global organization’s entire network from ground up before deploying even a single piece of hardware. Design first, deploy last.

The Wi-Fi design plan can be further customized by selecting the 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels and bandwidths of operation along with the transmit power for each access point, and presets for throughput requirements for each site.

With a natively integrated Wi-Fi planning tool, SteelConnect Manager significantly simplifies the process of designing and deploying a Wi-Fi network for a global enterprise. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Learn more about other benefits of adopting the new way of networking with Riverbed SteelConnect and test drive the solution to become a believer! 

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