While the network is carrying business critical applications, all well and good. But Netflix and Soundcloud streaming? They’re usually red flags.
Enter Application Awareness. One of the most useful outcomes from deploying enterprise-grade wireless is obtaining valuable insights into what the network is actually busy doing and the ability to act upon that information automatically.
The network is an asset that an organisation uses like any other tool to run its business. Having visibility into how that asset is being utilised is of tremendous value.
Application Awareness leads to a higher level of detailed visibility into an organisation’s actual, ground-level operations, of how users are using the network services. From this a business is able to identify trends, prevent threats, or recognise that it may need to improve the overall service experience e.g. an increase in capacity.
Many enterprise wireless vendors build Application Awareness into their products. They also make it easy for administrators to enforce a differentiated service based on profiles; triggered by application sensors built into the product. When sensors detect a voice call for example, a certain level of network resources can be awarded to it. When the sensors detect music streaming, the network can be configured to respond to that differently.
The system can generate regular reports on all of the above, including the health of the network. The information that these reports provide to the business becomes valuable from Day 1 and indispensible in supporting and optimising the utilisation of this business asset.
An organisation that before was somewhat blind to what the Wi-Fi was busy doing, and not entirely sure of how their asset was being utilised, now has valuable insights and an input for future planning.
Although not obvious, there are substantial differences to Enterprise or Corporate-grade Wi-Fi to those systems for Home/SOHO use.
For a user, these differences can be transparent. For them it is business as usual: a password gets entered and their devices are able to connect to the Wi-Fi network. For a business, there are valid features in enterprise grade equipment that are of important, if not essential, operational use.
To many mid-size to large organisations, requirements are usually more demanding to those of the SOHO/SMB market. The most common needs for wireless services in a corporate environment typically include the following.
- Coverage, Capacity and Density – servicing many clients in a contained area or vice versa.
- Differentiated services experience – to support critical business applications, BYOD or Guest-only WiFi for visitors.
- Performance and reliability – an exemplary user experience regardless of numbers and loading on the network.
- Advanced security – leveraging centralised authentication and dynamic data encryption for users, plus network-wide protection through wireless intrusion detection systems.
- Network Integration – a seamless service across wired & wireless networks.
- Support – the supported environment is consistent with existing operations.
- Centralised Management and Reporting – global visibility from one portal; leveraging common toolsets, processes and metrics to produce business performance objectives.
Most of these deliverables can only be achieved with enterprise-grade wireless solutions. SOHO devices, as the name suggests, are otherwise perfect for a single instance of a small or home office, but do not have the ability to scale or to offer enterprise features.
In the end, its worth considering your business requirements from a different perspective. It’s possible that you may arrive at a solution that was not expected.