Feature requirements for an enterprise wireless network

Wireless network access has gone from a convenience to an absolute necessity in the enterprise. Previously, companies set up wireless access around meeting rooms and open work areas. Now, employees expect complete coverage of offices and campuses. Unlike homes, enterprise wireless system selection is based on several features. Here are the most important:

Management

Enterprise wireless networks can range from 10 to as many as 100 access points. Managing anything over a few devices individually is impossible. This is why higher end wireless networking equipment comes with wireless controllers. Each controller manages several if not all of the access points. A single change at the controller is propagated to all the access points in the system.

Handoff

Handoff is the term used to describe a client moving from one wireless access point to another. The client device decides which access point to which it connects. This selection is based on signal strength (or lack thereof). The wireless controller manages this handoff by preventing clients from connecting to access points with low signal strength. This keeps a user constantly connected even as they move across a building.

Network isolation

For the sake of security, network isolation prevents two devices connected to the same network from communicating with each other. Proper wireless systems block this interaction only allow communication with the router or gateway. This usage is ideal for guest networks where outsiders connect to a corporate network.