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Does Your Small Business Need a Wireless LAN Controller?

March 30, 2011 - 0 Comments

Simplify the management of your wireless network plus give users advanced mobility services with this one device.

Small Businesses have embraced Wireless LAN for a number of reasons – initially it offered wireless access and connectivity to various devices but now it has become an integral part of business today, not only boosting employee productivity but also becoming a viable alternative to wired (Ethernet-based) access to the network. As the number of clients using wireless infrastructure continues to increase, so does the need for continuous wireless coverage, wireless network uptime and centralized management and monitoring.

Over a period of time as your business grows and you hire new employees and add new access points or move to new buildings or floors it becomes increasingly difficult to manage, configure your wireless infrastructure. And if you have more than two or three wireless access points, managing each of them separately is a time-consuming task.

But it doesn’t have to be. With a wireless LAN controller, you can simplify WLAN management and make it easier to give users advanced mobility services.

A WLAN controller is a hardware device that provides a single point of management for all of the access points in your network; those access points connect to the WLAN controller, which then connects to your wireless network. A WLAN controller communicates with the access points over any Ethernet or IP network using the Lightweight Access Point Protocol, or LWAPP, which lets you control several wireless access points at once.

Wireless LAN controllers designed for small businesses typically support from six to 25 wireless access points and as many as 250 users. Most controllers are a small form factor and some don’t have fans, so they’re compact and quiet enough to install outside of a wiring closet. And most WLAN controllers include Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) ports for plugging in wireless access points directly. This gives you additional flexibility when deciding where to install access points in your building, because the PoE port provides electricity to the access point.

Benefits of a WLAN controller

With WLAN controllers you can reduce the overall operational expenses by centralizing and simplifying network deployment, operations and management and monitoring of all of the wireless access points on your network. The WLAN controller will automatically discover and configure all of the access points on your network and then set the power and channel settings in real time. This means that the WLAN controller will optimize your wireless network for the best possible performance with very little human intervention.

The WLAN controller also helps ensure continues wireless coverage by automatically helping the wireless network recover from access point failures. If one access point goes down, the controller can shift wireless traffic to a functioning access point. Also, many WLAN controllers include Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities to direct traffic on the network in the most efficient way.

A wireless LAN controller can bolster your network security by enforcing security policies on each access point and preventing unauthorized accesses to your wireless network. Some WLAN controllers even provide intrusion detection and prevention services in case of network attack. These devices also generally support Wi-Fi security standards to help protect your company’s private data.

For more information, please take a look at Cisco’s Wireless LAN Controllers and Access Points.

Does your company use a wireless LAN controller to manage multiple access points? Share your experience!

If you’re just considering installing a wireless network, hear what Jimmy Ray Purser has to say about what wireless can and can’t do for your business.

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