All posts tagged BYOD

Why you need a wireless survey before you spend money on a wireless network?

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Why do we carry out wireless surveys? 

Cablers Network & AV Solutions provide a complete range of services to organisations planning to implement wireless and mobile network solutions.

The best piece of advice i can give you before you embark on your wireless adventure is to do some homework on the company or consultant you plan to work with. Ask for testimonials and case studies, these will always be provided by businesses with a proven track record. Unfortunately we visit too many organizations that have had wireless networks installed which have never worked properly or were not fit for purpose. Cablers have consequently improved these networks beyond measure for the end users but problems are easily avoided in the first place if you choose the right installation partner and you take advantage of a comprehensive wireless survey.

What is a Wireless site survey?

A wireless survey is the necessary first step in the deployment of any wireless network. It is the most essential element for providing the wireless coverage you are expecting and it will ultimately help you avoid any disappointment with its desired operation.

All wireless signals are broadcast as radio frequencies (RF). A wireless survey is a process by which a surveyor studies your building to understand the behavior of the radio frequencies. (RF)  The purpose of a wireless survey is to make sure that the wireless you have in place or the wireless you will order is fit for purpose.

Through the process of RF testing we are able to build a detailed picture of your site. Signal information is collated onto a map which shows the behavior of the RF signals. The testing will have taken into account the fabric of your building, routes for additional cabling (if required) and signal strength in detail. It will pinpoint any areas prone to interference and will help determine the appropriate placement of wireless access points to provide the best coverage.

Signal Strength is most commonly known as ’coverage’ and it is the basic requirement for a wireless network.  As a general guideline, low signal strength means unreliable connections and low data throughput. This will have a direct bearing on the way any device connected to the wireless network performs. Therefore a survey such as this is a great way to check the health of your existing network and asses any negative interference and/or Access Point connectivity.

The results of a proper site survey provide the detailed information that addresses coverage, interference sources, equipment placement, power considerations and cabling requirements. The site survey documentation will also serve as a guide for the network design and for the installation of your wireless infrastructure.

Be careful not to underestimate the effort and resources required to properly survey, design and deploy a wireless network. We have seen experienced IT professionals make the same mistake. You cannot just throw a few access points where you think they are most needed, or that the managed wireless controller that is sitting in your communications cabinet will take care of everything. Your wireless signal is impacted by many elements including neighboring wireless networks, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, microwaves, alarm systems and even plumbing.

Not all wireless surveys are equal and it can be quite difficult to tell if that person walking around your site knows what they are doing. Here are a few things to look out for:

  1. Make sure they want to attend site to carry out the survey. If your offered a remote survey without the vendor ever visiting site be aware that a remote survey will not answer any of the questions needed to design a robust wireless network.
  2. Hopefully you are asked pertinent questions relating to you current number of devices and usage patterns and your aspirations for the future use of your network. This shows that the company you are dealing with is consultative and your not just going to get a prescriptive solution. One size does not fit all!
  3.  You have been asked for a plan of your building so that it can be incorporated into the software package that tests you RF coverage.
  4.  Make sure they take their time and check your whole building, they should also check the communications cabinet to make sure you have space for the supporting infrastructure requirements such as available switch ports, power over ethernet (POE), electrical power, and rack space needed to support the installation. They may also want to test existing cables that you plan to utilise or look at potential routes for new cabling and containment.

These are just a few things to look out for when choosing who provides your wireless solution. You will pay for a properly designed network with your time or your money when you have to redo the work. Our customers save time and money by avoiding poorly designed and deployed wireless networks. They have Cablers experts on hand providing radio frequency & interference analysis, cabling, coverage and all the capacity information needed to deploy a high performing, secure and reliable wireless network.

The moral of this story is to “Get a Survey, before you go wireless.”

We are easily contacted if you wish to discuss a wireless solution or BYOD deployment.

Why not take advantage of some  good advice and contact our team.

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BYOD – The Transparent Proxy Headache Solved

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Lots of people keep asking me what the transparent proxy forwarder in onBoarder is and how does it work. I thought I would write a post to try to explain what it is and how it can benefit a school or business with an upstream proxy.

Having been involved in deploying BYOD systems for some time now, the biggest frustration for us has been upstream proxy. The main problems we have encountered have been managing user device configuration and faults in guest and BYOD web redirection portals. There is a huge problem integrating a BYOD solution with an upstream proxy which leads the question of all “how do we transparent HTTPS traffic?”

There are four options to resolve the upstream proxy issue.

Option 1 – offering the users the upstream proxy details and asking them to configure their own devices.
Most of the schools have been unwilling and rightly so to hand out proxy details to students or guests. This compromises the network to some extent and allows users to manually change the proxy filter ports to less restricted ports.
Guests coming into school want to hop on and surf and proxy configuration can be complex on some devices and not supported on others.

Option 2 – System based configuration
Now here is a can of worms. Do I have a WPAD using DNS or DHCP or both and which devices work with WPAD and which dont. a WPAD solution can be flakey and only works for some devices although I believe it now works for IOS 7. A WPAD either need to reside on a different network or all devices on the wires and wireless will pick up the WPAD settings.
This solution can be then combined with either IOS profiles or manual WPAD entry on Ipads and iPhones.
But where does that leave our best network friend the android well back at manual proxy device configuration again.
Some wireless vendors offer an onboarding process which will help configure the settings on some devices. This includes an onboarding portal residing on an open network where the user registers and downloads a profile. This works for both Android and iPhone but windows users still need the good old WPAD file.

Option 3 – New Broadband
This is probably the best solution when it comes to BYOD. New broadband with either inhouse filtering with something like Lightspeed or with external filtering managed by the broadband provider.
This solution can be expensive and take a large chunk of the years budget, which when combined with the cost of delivering BYOD can cause the project to become to expensive especially if it involves a new managed wireless system, switching and cabling.
Some schools do not want to have the responsibility of owning the filtering and can be resistive towards changing their broadband provider which we have seen at quite a few sites.

Option 4 – onBoarder

Our quest for transparent proxy and a lot of late nights led us to implement a new module on our onBoarder system, the transparent proxy forwarder called such as we are techies and have no personality to name it. The transparent proxy forwarder (TP) is just that, it takes all packets destined for the internet and sends them to the upstream proxy on the required port. The user or device has no knowledge of an upstream proxy and no configuration on the device is required, no WPAD, no profile, no web redirect portals, no over complex solution with profile for this and WPAD for that and lets not forget android has to drink four cups of coffee then install three apps, with onBoarder just connect and surf.

The Guest TP solution

OnBoarder GTP100 has one dedicated network for the Guest devices. Users connect to the sites Guest wireless which is configured on a dedicated VLAN. The device receives DHCP and DNS settings from onBoarder with a gateway of onBoarder’s LAN gateway port. All traffic is sent to the upstream proxy via the WAN port on onBoarder.

onBoarder can be supplied with a Guest login portal if the existing wireless does not have Guest facilities or stand alone access points will be used.

The BYOD solution

onBoarder NSTP1000 has two networks for the BYOD/Guest devices, one for student forwarding and one for Guest/staff forwarding. when connecting to BYOD a single SSID can be used with dynamic VLAN’s. onBoarder’s radius server authenticates the user with username and password against the sites Active Directory and then applies the relevant VLAN to the authenticated user. The device receives DHCP and DNS settings from onBoarder with a gateway of onBoarder’s LAN gateway port. All traffic is sent to the staff or student upstream proxy port via the WAN port on the onBoarder.

onBoarder can be supplied with a Guest login portal if the existing wireless does not have Guest facilities or stand alone access points will be used.
onBoarder NSTP1000 dashboard can provide information on internet bandwidth, access point utilisation user logon details including IP address.

Both system can be configured to work with an in house filtering system and has been extensively tested with the Lightspeed filtering solution.

I hope this may be of use to anyone wanting to deploy a BYOD solution, and whether you have upstream proxy or would like a BYOD in a box solution our team have the experience to help deliver a working platform.
For more information about onBoarder and how it can help with the integration of your BYOD solution call 08453879384 and talk to one of our team.