WLAN updates are a necessary part of Wi-Fi network management. Unfortunately, technology and network needs change so quickly that as soon as one upgrade is complete, it may be time to start thinking about the next one.
Most organizations upgrade their network every three to five years to keep up with the latest technology and performance. This makes sense for any business, especially those that heavily rely on their network for daily operations and customer interactions. They need optimal performance to keep up with growing business and expectations.
Although the scale of WLAN updates varies by organization, there can be significant costs and resources involved. Knowing when it’s time to upgrade is half the battle, especially for small businesses. It’s important to plan thoroughly for a seamless migration to limit interruptions and downtime.
So, how can you prepare for a WLAN upgrade that takes into account your current and future business needs—and sets you up for success down the road?
These are a few indicators telling you that it’s time to upgrade your Wi-Fi.
If it’s been a while since your last upgrade, you’ll start to notice a slowdown in your network’s performance. Outdated hardware and an increase in devices are the perfect recipe for subpar connections. They can also impact your network’s security, making it more vulnerable to threats. Just like any other technology, new generations of Wi-Fi are released every few years, which makes it more challenging for older equipment to keep up.
You will start to notice slower network speeds as time goes on, and equipment becomes outdated. Beyond frustrating employees and customers, poor network performance can impact business operations and prevent key tasks from being done. If customers rely on your network to interact with your company, slow performance can also cost you valuable business.
Even if you’re not experiencing hiccups in network performance, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate your needs after periods of growth. An increase in users and devices can put a strain on the infrastructure. Incorporating a scalable solution can help you plan for additional growth and make future upgrades less painful.
Here are some of the things to do and keep in mind in preparation for an upgrade.
Conduct a site survey
Conducting a site survey is the first step in upgrading your WLAN. It’s important to assess the current situation, so you know where to make improvements. The site survey should be based on the specific type of Wi-Fi desired. In most cases, these days, that’s 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6. This allows you to make the right decisions about design and hardware following the newest standards and requirements.
A site survey will also help identify dead zones, issues with building infrastructure, and hardware malfunctions that can be fixed. It gives the network manager an idea of traffic and usage patterns throughout the space. Site surveys are necessary to properly design a network that will not only serve the current needs of the business but the future ones as well.
Consider IoT usage and growth
It’s estimated that there will be over 25 billion IoT devices in use worldwide by 2021 and that over 150,000 additional devices will be coming online every minute by 2025. Whether it’s the smartwatches of hospital waiting room visitors or the tracking system in a shipping warehouse, IoT devices are a major factor to take into consideration when upgrading your network.
How many devices is your network supporting now, and, more importantly, how will that number grow a year from now? Are these devices supporting internal operations, or are they external devices used by visitors? Your network must be able to grow to support these devices while staying secure.
Make it scalable
Network upgrades normally happen every three to five years, but a lot can change in that time. Whether you add new employees, expand your space, or remodel your processes, your network needs to be able to scale with you.
Of course, you can add additional access points to compensate in the meantime, but a temporary fix like this can only do so much if the network wasn’t properly configured in the first place. Configuring the access points, firewalls, switches, and controllers properly will set you up for scalability and growth as more devices and users come online.
Scalability also includes storage. On-site physical storage locations are becoming more difficult and costly to maintain. Upgrading your network may be a good time to consider a move to a cloud-based storage system. These systems are much easier to maintain in the long run and allow your business room to grow without concerns of maxing out your current storage capacity.
Keep security a top priority
Security is one of the biggest reasons to re-evaluate network needs every few years. Older equipment leaves you and your data susceptible to threats.
A site survey will help to identify vulnerable areas. The network designer also needs to take into consideration the number of IoT devices accessing the network and how that number may fluctuate over the coming years. Creating a separate network for these devices, as well as a guest network for any outside visitors, will help protect your organization.
Your network worries don’t end after an upgrade, unfortunately. A network monitoring platform like the one offered by 7SIGNAL can help you keep an eye on performance to maximize uptime and productivity.
7SIGNAL measures Wi-Fi performance at the end-user level, so you’re alerted to any potential issues before they spread. This proactive approach to network monitoring alerts engineers to problems like congestion, interference, roaming, and hardware failures, so they can fix them early.
The 7SIGNAL platform is modular, so you can choose the option that best fits your business needs. Contact us today to learn about the difference network monitoring can make for your organization.
7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise Wireless Network Monitoring. The 7SIGNAL platform is a cloud-based Wireless Network Monitoring (WNM) solution that continuously troubleshoots the wireless network for performance issues – maximizing network uptime, device connectivity, and network ROI. The platform was designed for the world’s most innovative organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, and government agencies and is currently deployed at Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens, Microsoft, and many others. 7SIGNAL continuously monitors the connectivity of over 4 million global devices. Learn more at www.7signal.com.