Vol. 19, #7 - February 17, 2014 - Issue #967
Implementing Wi-Fi in Enterprise Environments
- Editor's Corner
- From the Mailbag
- Implementing Wi-Fi in Enterprise Environments
- Tip of the Week: Fixing Faxing in Windows 8.1
- Recommended for Learning
- Microsoft Virtual Academy
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Asia Pacific
- Webcast Calendar
- MSExchange.org: Office 365 Online Conference
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Windows Client
- Windows Server
- Windows PowerShell
- SharePoint, Exchange, and Office
- Windows Server News
- Clouds are more secure than traditional IT systems -- and here's why
- Choosing a VDI hypervisor? Consider licensing and labor
- Improving VM performance through proper disk selection
- Top 10 enterprise desktop and Windows security stories of 2013
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- #1 Hyper-V Backup
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- 3 Free Tools. 1 Easy Download. Active Directory Admin Simplified.
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's newsletter is all about ensuring WiFi works reliably in enterprise environments such as office buildings, conference centers, warehouses, industrial workshops, and so on. Ensuring reliable WiFi can be a challenge in such environments for various reasons. But WiFi in the bedroom can also be challenging as this Dilbert comic illustrates:
I'll let you chew on that for a while...OK time to dig into our mailbag:
From the Mailbag
Here's a bit more feedback from readers concerning Issue #964 Remote Login to Desktop PCs and Issue #965 More Remote Login Solutions where we examined some different solutions for logging on to remote PCs. First, in the Mailbag section of Issue #966 Getting Management Buy-In for Information Security, a reader named Jeff had said:
Maybe you can do a "feature matrix" in one of your upcoming newsletters showing which product supports/controls/allows-control-from which platform/OS.
A reader named Mike emailed us to say:
I would second this thought.
Would any of our readers like to take this on and put together such a feature matrix? We'd be happy to publish it in our newsletter, just let us know :-)
Aiain from South Africa recommended the following:
This was one which I used to use for accessing any machine -- it does need to be installed on the machine you want to control, but once there, it works perfectly. A free -- open source solution that originally had some security issues, but was then adapted into so many different types of connectors, with different types of security:
Clients available for all types, including iPhone and Linux.
Also in the Mailbag section of Issue #966 Getting Management Buy-In for Information Security, a reader named Alan from Park City, Utah USA, asks the following question:
I need to set up two-factor remote access for a client. Is there any consensus on best products for this? The client is a very cost-sensitive non-profit organization. They would prefer USB drives as tokens, but also could live with cell-phone text message techniques.
We received only one answer to Alan's question, which was from a reader named Andrew:
DuoSecurity must be considered here. It is awesome, easy to use, supports both soft and hard tokens, and is free for up to 10 users.
We hope that helps. Do any other readers have suggestions that might help Alan? Email us at [email protected]
And now on to the main topic for this issue...
Implementing Wi-Fi in Enterprise Environments
Many large businesses and organizations have challenging RF (radio frequency) environments that make it difficult or near impossible to deploy WiFi networks (also called wireless local area networks or WLANs) that are fast and reliable.
Take your typical office building for example. Let's say you want to implement WiFi coverage across an entire floor where your company's employees work. Potential sources of interference from signal absorption and reflection might include:
- The elevator shaft
- Metal desks in offices
- Metal storage shelves
- The microwave oven in the kitchen area
- Water coolers
- Water warmers (i.e. people)
Then there's the matter of the kinds of applications that users work with nowadays. Business WiFi networks today are expected to be able to carry data, multimedia, and even voice traffic. Only a few years ago when you were deploying a WiFi network for an organization, you only had to worry about coverage--ensuring that users could connect reliably from anywhere they were expected to work. Today however, you can't just focus on coverage when you design a WiFi network; you also need to design for density.
And yet businesses of all types and sizes continue deploying WiFi at an accelerating rate. Why? Because wireless networking offers great flexibility advantages over traditional wired networking. Take a warehouse for example. With all those metal shelves and electrically noise machinery, wouldn't it be simpler just to stick with wired networking? Not for today's warehouses where just-in-time inventory can make the difference between profit and loss. Wireless networking enables walkaround inventory to be used to keep accurate track of inventory using barcode scanners and similar devices. Having accurate inventory is crucial when large customers place orders because failure to deliver on time can result in penalties. And walkaround inventory is only feasible when networking is wireless.
The result of all this is that today's businesses depend heavily on their wireless networks to work properly. If the WiFi network goes down, the business is screwed! That's because for many businesses WiFi is no longer a niche component of their infrastructure but the very backbone of their network!
I recently had a chance to talk with a company that has deployed a number of enterprise WiFi solutions using technology and products developed by Meru Networks. Traditional WiFi has evolved through a series of IEEE standards through 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and currently 802.11ac. Meru has followed a different approach however with hardware and software solutions that use single channel architecture with channel layering, intelligent network control traffic management, and comprehensive monitoring. Yeah yeah, I know, that sounds like typical vendor-speak. But what it means in practice is that Meru WLANs "just work" in places where past experience has shown WiFi networking to often be frustratingly unreliable.
Take a conference center for example. How many of you readers have gone to a conference where "free WiFi" is supposed to be available throughout the conference center? During lunch break you try to connect to the Internet to check your email. How many of you were unable to connect? And if you did connect, how long did it take you to download that 2 MB PDF attachment?
In contrast to this, check out this short list of some businesses and organizations where Meru has received a lot of kudos for deploying a wireless network that has worked far more effectively than 802.11n and 802.11ac solutions:
- Comicon - tons of RF interference from crowds of people plus crosstalk from homegrown WiFi access points set up at vendor kiosks
- Royal Carribean Cruises - can you imagine the difficulty of getting seamless WiFi to work in a steel cruise ship?
- Football stadiums - if it doesn't work there will be lots of popcorn being thrown at you
- Old buildings - thick walls with who knows what holding them up
- Mission-critical e.g. the Chicago Board of Trade - the economy depends on it!
One solution I've heard about involved implementing Cisco VoIP over a Meru WLAN and it worked flawlessly. Another solution enabled users to hand off their iPhones and Android phones from their cellular network provider to the Meru WLAN with no interruption or loss of connectivity. For more information on Meru Networks and their products, visit their website:
Tips for implementing WLANs
Regardless whether you go with Meru or a vendor-based 802.11ac solution for your business WiFi, there are a few things you should pay attention to from the start:
- Always start with a site survey to determine optimal placement of access points to ensure adequate coverage. A site survey basically involves walking around the entire site with a wireless spectrum analyzer like the Fluke Networks AirMagnet and measure things like WLAN throughput, data rates, retries, losses, and so on. Most importantly, you should perform your site survey during normal working hours when employees are performing their usual tasks. If you do a site survey on the weekend when no one is around and all the machinery is turned off, your measurements won't reflect the normal level of RF interference during ordinary working hours!
- The speed and reliability of your WLAN network will ultimately depend on the speed and reliability of your backbone LAN and Internet connection to your ISP. If you haven't got a proper backbone in place, or if your Internet connection isn't fast enough, then you need to get these problems solved before you can properly design your WLAN.
- If you plan on carrying voice traffic over wireless, make sure first that the WLAN vendor's solution includes Quality of Service (QoS) options for automatically prioritizing traffic according to type.
- A big decision you'll need to make will be whether to deploy, monitor and maintain the WLAN yourself or have the vendor handle this. The first approach involves large upfront cost (CapEx) in purchasing the controllers and access points. Then you'll need to figure the ongoing cost (OpEx) of licensing the vendor's management/monitoring software and the salaries of the personnel who will be running your network. The second approach basically reduces everything to a single monthly fee, typically charged per access point, which includes design, deployment, and remote monitoring.
Send us feedback
Have you deployed a WLAN solution for your business? Which vendor's solution did you go with, and why? Got any tips, pointers or gotchas that might help readers considering WLAN deployments? Let us know at [email protected]
Last week we included a tip by reader Jeff Rodenkirch on fixing problems with shell extensions in Windows 8.1. This week we have another tip submitted by Jeff:
For those Luddites that are still using faxes: find a FXST30.dll from a Win7 machine. That file (in system32) will fix the broken fax printer in Win8.1.
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
Windows 7 Resource Kit (Microsoft Press)
Windows 7 Inside Out, Deluxe Edition (Microsoft Press)
Windows 7 Administrator's Pocket Consultant (Microsoft Press)
Optimizing Windows 7 Pocket Consultant (Microsoft Press)
MCITP Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-685): Windows 7 Enterprise Desktop Support Technician: Windows 7 Enterprise Desktop Support Technician (Microsoft Press)
MCITP Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-686): Windows 7 Desktop Administrator (Microsoft Press)
MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-680): Configuring Windows 7 (Corrected Reprint Edition): Configuring Windows 7 (Microsoft Press)
Mastering Windows 7 Deployment (Sybex)
Microsoft Windows 7 Administration Instant Reference (Sybex)
Microsoft Windows 7 Administrator's Reference: Upgrading, Deploying, Managing, and Securing Windows (Syngress)
Microsoft Virtual Academy
February 18: SQL Azure in VM Role Jump Start
If you're wondering how to use Windows Azure as a hosting environment for your SQL Server virtual machines, join the experts as they walk you through it, with practical, real-world demos. SQL Server in Windows Azure VM is an easy and full-featured way to be up and running in 10 minutes with a database server in the cloud. Don't miss this chance to learn more about it. Register here!
February 19: Virtualizing Your Data Center with Hyper-V and System Center Jump Start
Join this free online Jump Start and get the information you need to be the virtualization expert in your organization. Learn how to build your infrastructure from the ground up on the Microsoft stack, using System Center to provide powerful management capabilities. Explore Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager and VMware vSphere 5.5, with Microsoft virtualization experts Symon Perriman and Matt McSpirit, who are also VMware Certified Professionals. Don't miss this informative session! Register here.
Quote of the Week
"Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more." - Mark Twain
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Backblaze is the easiest online backup for you and your business. Get all your machines backed up, painlessly. Secure. Fast. Offsite. http://www.wservernews.com/go/1392624110522
Microsoft Office 365 has become an option for organizations looking to move content – particularly Exchange – to the cloud. Learn about the capabilities of Office 365 and get ready to make the move.
Virtual Router is a free, open source software based router for Windows PCs that lets users wirelessly share any internet connection:
Lync Conference 2014 on February 18-20, 2014 at The Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada
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Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014 on March 4-7, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia
Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC 2014) on March 30-April 2, 2014 in Austin, Texas
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TechEd North America on May 12-15, 2014 in Houston, Texas
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) in July, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Microsoft SQL Server PASS Summit 2014 on November 4-7, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
European SharePoint Conference on May 5-8, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
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Using PowerShell to manage WDS in Windows Server 2012 R2 (Deployment Research)
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Top Five 2013 PowerShell Scripts in Script Center Repository (Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog)
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Missing E-mails In Outlook 2013 With Office 365 Or Outlook.com (Jorge's Quest for Knowledge)
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Clouds are more secure than traditional IT systems -- and here's why
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Top 10 enterprise desktop and Windows security stories of 2013
Enterprise IT desktop trends surrounding endpoint security management, mobility, BYOD and more continued to evolve over the past year, making 2013 an eventful year for IT security. Inside, explore a roundup of the top 10 Windows security stories your peers found most valuable last year.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
Huge, basketball-sized balls of ice have been washing up on the shore of Lake Michigan.
A huge avalanche descends upon the small hamlet of Moos in Passeier Valley, South Tyrol. Luckyly, no one was harmed.
Steam locomotive 'Red Arrow' in a race versus 'Iron Shark.' Who will end up with the trophy?
A crow solves a problem that requires eight seperate stages that must be completed in a specific order.
Costumed and enthusiastic attendees from all over the World come to this delightful blend of ballroom dancing, live music, stage shows, steam machinery and circus.