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What buyers need from Wi-Fi access point upgrades

A recap of SearchNetworking's How to Buy series, which teaches IT professionals what to keep an eye on when buying new products for their networks.

SearchNetworking's How to Buy series focuses on current technology trends in terms of hardware, software and application products. In 2014, two technologies received a lot of interest: Wi-Fi access point upgrades and WAN optimization tools. These technologies -- always critical -- were made even more so because of new standards and capabilities. In this series, experts discuss the benefits that upgrades to these core technologies will afford and reveal the proper steps enterprises should take in the buying process. Brush up on your knowledge of what the new 802.11ac standard really means for the enterprise and the concerns you should consider when evaluating WAN optimization.

Buying WAN optimization tools

In this how to, industry analyst Kevin Tolly discusses what you need to know when buying WAN optimization tools. Unlike local area network (LAN) switches, WAN optimization tools aren't based on industry standards. But there are a few capabilities that Tolly says are crucial. In particular, compression, deduplication and TCP session optimization must be part of any WAN optimization platform in order to properly reduce latency and the amount of traffic traveling across the WAN. Before WAN optimization tools are deployed, enterprises must understand how the tools will work with their specific traffic. Testing the environment before deciding on a particular WAN application is important. Tolly suggests purchasing a WAN emulator to simulate the bandwidth constraints and latency of the WAN. Doing this allows the user to benchmark more complex scenarios by leveraging the more sophisticated features of commercial-grade products. Once a company has chosen the WAN optimization tools that are best for its network needs, configuring those WAN optimization tools is essential to ensuring the appliance or platform is up to speed.

802.11ac APs: What to look for now that it's time to upgrade

In a How to Buy article series about upgrading to 802.11ac access points (AP), Craig Mathias says that the ratification of the higher-speed 802.11ac standard means that anyone with a wireless LAN is most likely looking to upgrade. But before taking any steps, Mathias writes it's important for companies to carefully consider their requirements before opening their wallets.  For one thing, Mathias says it is crucial to note that it isn't just the 1.3 Gbps speeds that buyers should be focusing on. When it comes to Gigabit Wi-Fi, the additional capacity afforded by the increased throughput would be beneficial only when working with a growing user base armed with a variety of mobile devices that are packed with a multitude of applications. But Mathias says not all 802.11ac products offer the same features and performance. One must-have feature that shouldn't be overlooked is support for dense deployments. Contrary to what some people think, increased throughput does not mean that fewer access points will be needed. In fact, more aggressive radio modulation of 802.11ac APs, coupled with the always increasing demand for capacity, will likely require more APs. Other features that Mathias says are crucial include nondisruptive scalability, dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and enhanced management functions. The bottom line, says Mathias, is companies shouldn't put their 802.11ac plans on the back burner. Start your evaluation now.

This was last published in January 2015

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