WiFi Solutions from Ruckus Wireless - Powered by Matrix Networks

Since 2000, Matrix Networks has been deploying best of breed WiFi Internet solutions for hospitality, small business, and enterprise organizations from Portland Oregon to Orlando Florida.

As Y2k approached Matrix Networks was focused in on communications platforms, phone systems to be more specific.  A strength of Matrix Networks from day one has been serving hotels, motels and resorts need for phone systems. Pleased with our solutions and support, our clients began clamoring for us to provide this "new" technology, wireless Internet or WiFi.  After an intense evaluation process we decided to go forward supporting and installing wireless systems, giving us nearly two decades of experience in WiFi best practices and support for not only the hospitality market but also for Enterprises large and small. 

Since WiFi hit the market it has grown exponentially with new use cases and applications appearing every day. Who could have imagined we would use wireless to not only browse the web, but control our thermostat and lights, monitor important tools or control our sous vide cooker.  The value of WiFi has grown dramatically following two important trends Internet of Things (the aforementioned thermostat lights) and mobility (smartphones, tablets, laptops.)  We expect secure, fast, reliable connectivity but this is rarely achieved. I liken Wi-Fi to plumbing, there are various degrees of "working." If you fix your toilet, it may flush and therefore work, but also leak and cause tremendous damage to your floor.  WiFi is similar, it might be working, but is the connection fast?  Is it secure?  Does it allow me to move from place to place without dropping?  Can I see the other devices I need to without creating security flaws?  Is it simple to connect?  Getting your WiFi network to exceed expectations is possible but requires the correct hardware and smart configuration practices.

 

Components of your WiFi Network

A WiFi network is more than putting a dual-purpose router 802.11x router in play.  To deploy a business class WiFi network you should be building it with the correct tools.  The most obvious piece of any WiFi deployment is the Access Point, a WiFi broadcasting radio.  These devices are distributed across your environment from a single access point at a small location, to thousands at large campuses.  These devices should provide ubiquitous coverage where desired.  The access points should be providing two frequencies 5.0Ghz, your high speed, high density option and 2.4 Ghz, your traditional best coverage spectrum.  It is advisable to segment devices and users on your network between the two frequencies depending on the application.  The radio should also be capable of providing "mesh" capabilities, allowing radios to talk to eachother either in a pinch or as part of a plan.  

The second critical piece of your wireless network will be the Controller.  This is the brains of your WiFi Network, allowing you to set system wide policies, control access and view metrics.  The Controller will ensure your data remains secure, segmenting traffic, creating client isolation and implementing and enforcing your WEP, WPA and WPS options.  Depending on the specifics of the controller it could also add more functionality to services like location tracking and mobile device handoffs.

Not to be overlooked is your data switch.  If you are looking to handle high speed traffic, you likely need a gigabit handoff to handle the load.  Most Access Points have the option for local power, but the smart approach is to provide PoE from your data switch, minimizing downtime and allowing for easy reboot troubleshooting.  The data switch you select should complement your expectations for providing security to your WiFi.

Things to Consider Choosing the Right WiFi Solution for your Business

  • Coverage - this is the most blamed issue of WiFi for a reason.  Coverage is tricky to plan for and equally difficult to examine post install.  You should consider having a heat map made of your building and using the results to help you identify the trouble spots in your physical building to design around.
  • Density - more and more devices are using our WiFi networks, but the technology is really a hub and spoke design, connecting to one device at any given moment.  Density planning is complex and requires vision into the future use of the network.  When evaluating equipment understand the limitations related to simultaneous clients, not the stated amount but the actual number the access point can handle without degrading performance.
  • Channel Conflict - with the number of Access Points and other radio frequencies blasting our airspace it is shocking we can use radio at all.  Radio channels are waves, and therefore observe the same rules, including interference from overlapping channels.  This can be a silent killer of WiFi performance and requires a spectrum analyzer to discover and solve.
  • Security - your wireless network should allow staff to work anywhere, anytime.  To the same point it needs to be highly secure, allowing the device to access only the segments of the network you permit it to.  This is accomplished with a combination of strategic SSID use, VLAN segmentation, authentication and encryption.  This particular aspect of wireless networks is often overlooked consistently leaving you exposed to the outside world or instead closed off to internal tools only allowing web browsing.
  • Connectivity -  best practice on a WiFi network is to provide a Cat5e or better network cable to each Access Point.  Any modern Wi-Fi hardware provider will have mesh capabilities, but these services come a at a cost, speed.  Every hop you make on a mesh WiFi network cuts your speed in half.  Using mesh to connect that one radio that is hard to reach with traditional cable is a valuable application, running mesh to all radios is an unqualified disaster.

Our Approach to Great WiFi

As your WiFi partner we backup our design with a WiFi Guarantee, if we don't deliver the promised solution we fix it at our cost.  The process starts with a site survey from our engineering team, using our software and hardware evaluation tools.  From that process we create a design that shows clients a map of exactly where the coverage starts and ends.  We spend the time to get to know your plans for the WiFi and how the needs case might change over the lifetime of your solution.  Security is a top concern, we are proud of our ability to secure the data our clients protect while allowing the appropriate users unfettered access.  Working with our team gives our clients comfortability with the performance, availability and security of their wireless deployment.  Let us know how we can help!

 

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