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Wireless Networks Thread, Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs? in Technical; I'm in the process of developing a specification and plan for a school that has a massive space problem which ...
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    Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    I'm in the process of developing a specification and plan for a school that has a massive space problem which means that laptops are going to be the only way to resolve IT lessons for classes.

    The infrastructure at present consists of some 3com wired switches and a number of 3com WAP 7250 providing AP access. In the past the school has had a mix of 11b and 11g laptops so you can imagine how that worked out.

    The system slowed to a crawl and sadly the server has not been up to much either.

    Anyway to get to the point we're looking at around 60 units using 11g at minimum with some of those (around 40) 11n capable laptops. Until now I've worked with unmanaged switches and small scale WAPs but this sort of scale seems to demand a managed approach. Essentially, I'm starting from scratch here and need to know where to find out the basics as well as more information on the options out there. So any suggestions or resources?

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Check out Bluesocket and Cisco - they were the best when I bought my BlueSocket.

    Consider 802.11a too - this is ratified and not as prone to interference as 802.11b/g. You will also find many business-grade notebooks come with 802.11a/b/g cards too. I believe that the 7250 AP supports 802.11a anyway (and with a BlueSocket system these can be integrated into your managed network).

    Of course, personally, I hate wireless and it causes a lot of trouble. I have found the easiest way is to use thin clients to reduce the bandwidth problems too.

    Have you also considered some of the space-saving desk ideas (e.g. Isis Concepts' Flipscreens)? Stick a thin client INSIDE each of these and very little space is used up. The computers can then be folded away when not in use too.

    If you want to get in touch,m I'll chat about my decision-making process with the BlueSocket (in comparison to Cisco, 3COM and HP).

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Something along the lines of Cisco Aironet 1200s would probally be a good idea for the WAPs, rock solid some of ours have uptimes of near 1.5 years and even thats probally down to power cuts and the fact I dont think they're not much older than that. Its the one part of our network I couldnt lay a single fault at, it simply works flawlessy even in a room with 4 APs and 40 laptops its rapid and dependable. Pricy though

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    If you are going down the Cisco route then the 3750 switch with integrated WLAN controller is a good start to a stackable core switch. Go for the 50 unit box (manages up to 50 APs) and use the Aironet 1000 series light APs. It truly is plug and play for APs once the controller is configured.

    Speak to Tom at ONI for more details

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Quick question... Just how many AP's would you recommend for the setup.

    At present there's 5 of the 3Com units installed at various points around the school... Coverage is supposedly pretty good all told... Oh and worth noting this is a PFI school so it's one of those "oooh pick our contractors and pay stupid money for an extra network socket!" cr*p.

    Would there be any mileage to be had from mounting AP's on the actual laptop trolleys? I suspect it's a no because teachers will forget about plugging network cables in but thought I'd ask...

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    If you are going down the Cisco route then the 3750 switch with integrated WLAN controller is a good start to a stackable core switch. Go for the 50 unit box (manages up to 50 APs) and use the Aironet 1000 series light APs. It truly is plug and play for APs once the controller is configured.

    Speak to Tom at ONI for more details
    Worth bearing in mind this is for a primary school with 13 classes not a secondary so that might be a liddle on the overkill side..

    Given the school size would you have a diff' recommendation?

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Go for the 25 AP controller at a push then ... that is why I said about the integrated unit ... you get a core switch *and* WLAN controller.

    30 laptops should ideally have access to any one of 4 APs (remember with Cisco you can use 4 channels!) but will probably only need to use 2.

    It also depends on usage. Will there be much media intensive work? Large files running from servers? A lot of access to external learning platforms?

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook
    Go for the 25 AP controller at a push then ... that is why I said about the integrated unit ... you get a core switch *and* WLAN controller.

    30 laptops should ideally have access to any one of 4 APs (remember with Cisco you can use 4 channels!) but will probably only need to use 2.
    Useful intel... thanks.. At a guess this would probably mean at least doubling up on the AP's... I suspect some testing with a couple of units would be a good start. At least the school is a newish build so I don't have 4' thick walls to cope with.

    It also depends on usage. Will there be much media intensive work? Large files running from servers? A lot of access to external learning platforms?
    Worst case scenario I'm looking at things like Espresso real player video clips but in the main they'll be doing web browsing, office (word, excel... ) work and using apps deployed to the machines... I'm going to be avoiding, where possible, network install apps in favour of local ones.

    The overall aim is to plan for 3 years+ with the budget so I'm assuming a worse case scenario in that respect..

    Also worth noting I've a budget of £36k to cover everything including a new server, replacing switches, AP's, 40 laptops and RAM upgrades, oh and sorting out software licenses for old and new.. I think it's do-able but the infrastructure cost could take big bite.

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    I had a bit of an "idea" last night that might be worth pursuing although I have some healthy doubts.

    I was thinking of the amount of work required to get wireless AP's wired up around the school and with there only being two trolleys was wondering if perhaps I should go with mounting two AP's directly on the laptop trolleys themselves and then using a LAN over power plug to handle the connection to the LAN. That way staff are only ever plugging in two power plugs (they can handle that!) and we cut the number of new AP's required down to four instead of multiples to cover the whole school.

    Thinking this through I can see a few potential problems:
    1. Whether the LAN over power sockets actually work on the schools system (it's brand new ie: less than 6 years old) and the speed we can get
    2. Possible channel clashes with existing AP's and/or with the other trolley if in same room or close by.

    Does this sound do-able, has something similar been tried already?

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Oh and granted there are other network sockets around the school but their locations tend to be a little disingenious so the LAN over power solution would be a useful augmentation.

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    @contink

    The speed over power points is not stunning, usually around 13mbits also it is a shared media like wireless and so even with two separate plugs it'll be sharing that abysmal bandwidth.

    You should be able to use up to three wireless channels at once in close proximity without interference with standard equipment. CH 1,6,11 if I recall correctly are in isolated signal bands that don't effect each.

    May bee a couple of network ports in each room for it to hook up to would suffice.

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Ive setup 3 wireless areas with 3com on 11a. each area has 3 wireless ap, each supporting 10 laptops max. at the moment we only have on laptop trolley housing 30 laptops.

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Hmm...

    I guess the only way to answer this question is to do some testing to see what the current setup coverage is like and then look into ways to improve the capacity and sharing the connection load.

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    I wouldn't go with b or g. to much interference. for good wireless coverage i managed to grab me self a scaled drawing of the school and worked out the best place to install the AP on the wall.

    Fingers and toes all crossed i've never been called to go sort out a problem with them.

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    Re: Managed network with HEAVY wifi component : Refs?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrHappy
    I wouldn't go with b or g. to much interference. for good wireless coverage i managed to grab me self a scaled drawing of the school and worked out the best place to install the AP on the wall.

    Fingers and toes all crossed i've never been called to go sort out a problem with them.
    ... TBH I hadn't considered going with a low speed network connection but then I suppose it makes sense if you've tweaked the setup to use minimal network traffic (no roaming profiles, etc..)

    I think the coverage issue is going to be case of either getting a tester like the one that was being drooled over recently or just wandering around school with a laptop and for some basic signal strength testing.

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