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Wireless Networks Thread, Wireless Choices. in Technical; Hi folks, we are currently going through the tendering process for a school wide wireless network installation. We need to ...
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    HarryMonkey's Avatar
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    Wireless Choices.

    Hi folks,
    we are currently going through the tendering process for a school wide wireless network installation. We need to have staff, student, guest and BYOD capabilities as well as providing connectivity for laptop trollies, hand held devices (iPod/iPad for electronic registration) and any other gadgets that haven't been invented yet.

    We have looked at various solutions offered by different companies and have whittled it down to three solutions,

    Meru
    Xirrus
    Cisco

    At this point I would welcome any comments people might have, positive and negative about any of these solutions. Talking to the vendors tells us that their solution is the best in the world and so I need to get some objective opinion from people on the coalface who are using these technologies.

    Do they perform well in your school? If you were starting over, would you choose them again? How easy is the system to administer/monitor/troubleshoot?

    What do you like/dislike? What would you change?

    What problems have you encountered?

    Also, any useful questions for when it comes to the interview stage would also be appreciated.

    (Any schools in the Milton Keynes area that are using any of these?)

    Many thanks

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevenewman View Post
    At this point I would welcome any comments people might have, positive and negative about any of these solutions. Talking to the vendors tells us that their solution is the best in the world and so I need to get some objective opinion from people on the coalface who are using these technologies.
    It's difficult to get an unbiased opinion here. Everyone thinks the solution they chose was the best

    Quote Originally Posted by stevenewman View Post
    Do they perform well in your school? If you were starting over, would you choose them again? How easy is the system to administer/monitor/troubleshoot?
    We chose Meru. It performs well. 30 connections per AP. Can walk from one side of the school to the other without dropping a ping. Had one driver issue in the last 18months, and we promote BYOD. Admin and monitor is all web based. We have several SSID's setup in vlans for staff,students, school equipment.

    Quote Originally Posted by stevenewman View Post
    What do you like/dislike? What would you change?
    I don't like the licensing model. If I buy hardware I don't like it being artificially restricted by licensing. 'n' capable AP's should run at 'n' regardless of their license.
    I also don't like the fact that you need to buy a controller. The controller is a linux box and I should be able to run this as a virtual machine, not buy their hardware.

    Quote Originally Posted by stevenewman View Post
    What problems have you encountered?
    none. If we need more coverage/access we just add another AP.

    Quote Originally Posted by stevenewman View Post
    Also, any useful questions for when it comes to the interview stage would also be appreciated.
    make sure the network can cope with the wireless - eg gigabit links to the AP, sensible backbone and VLAN's

  3. Thanks to CyberNerd from:

    SimpleSi (21st March 2012)

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    Pete10141748's Avatar
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    Weve got Cisco here, it was installed last year by a company brought in & funded by the LEA to bring all schools in the area "up to business standard" networking. I had no choice in the equipment, only had input into the locations of stuff around the site.

    The setup was quite painless working in tandem with the installers, and it's run very smoothly since it was put in - nice and speedy wireless which supports 30+ devices per WAP with no quarrel, no signal loss when moving around the site, everything is PoE which made installing WAPs much easier.
    Last edited by Pete10141748; 21st March 2012 at 10:31 AM.

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    We 'currently' (emphasis on the currently) use a Trapeze system, which although has been quite reliable in terms of hardware functionality, the same cannot be said for other areas of the provision.

    I'll be very interested to see what most people have opted for... Also if people have used/ are using a Trapeze system - their thoughts.

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    Oaktech's Avatar
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    As someone who has in the past installed Meru with considerable success, I would champion it generally speaking, but i also found the licensing model difficult to explain to people the question "what do you mean I can't have X facility without paying X money?" came up quite a lot, which was awkward as i installed it, I didn't sell it!

    I'm pretty sold on the Ubiquiti Unifi system now as money is a major issue and I can build up a managed wireless solution without management really even noticing! Literally i'm going to them once a month and saying "X wireless point has died, a replacement is 69" and they say yes, and i install another managed point!

    I've also installed aruba, but i didn't like it as much as meru, your choice really!

    A customer I worked with a while ago also asked motorola to quote based on a meru quote and they came back with something favourable in both quantity of kit and price, so it would be interesting to ask them again. Eventually the customer in question went with meru, but it was a close run thing!

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    Duke5A's Avatar
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    We use Cisco for our wireless. Probably just under 150 access points in six buildings handled by three wireless controllers which are in turn managed by Cisco WCS. Really, it just flat out works and we abuse it. It runs five wireless networks over it with about 600 or so wireless devices used daily. Every teacher here has a laptop and we make real heavy use of netbooks. From both a management and user aspect, I couldn't be happier with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Jiminy View Post
    We 'currently' (emphasis on the currently) use a Trapeze system, which although has been quite reliable in terms of hardware functionality, the same cannot be said for other areas of the provision.

    I'll be very interested to see what most people have opted for... Also if people have used/ are using a Trapeze system - their thoughts.
    We use Trapeze too (administered through Ringmaster)

    It's been reliable enough, though our major problems have been down to the initial implementation. There were nowhere near enough WAPs installed (15 devices per WAP recommendation) and that, coupled with physical network issues, means it can crawl when a lot of students are logging on (it can take over 12 minutes to log on, which goes down a treat).

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    Literally i'm going to them once a month and saying "X wireless point has died, a replacement is 69" and they say yes, and i install another managed point!
    [OT]
    Exactly my plan if any of my buffalo or ruckus APs give me a hint of bother in the future
    (One of my heads asked me the other day how much the AP I was working on cost 0 when I said a new one was 60 - he said don't waste time on it - get a new one )
    I really really hope they work out OK
    [/OT]
    @OP - I don't think they'll do everything you want but I'd buy a pack of three and try them anyway

    Si

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    Hi Stevenewman
    Thanks Cybernerd
    Meru Networks now offers controllers which can be run on a VMWare appliance as a virtual machine, so if this is something that is of interest it is available
    Meru has now been chosen by nearly 2500 schools colleges and academies in the UK & Ireland and is well proven in the education market.
    We have schools in Milton Keynes we can put you in touch with
    Feel free to PM me if you need to
    regards
    Mark Howell
    Area Director Uk & Ireland

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhowell View Post
    Meru Networks now offers controllers which can be run on a VMWare appliance as a virtual machine, so if this is something that is of interest it is available
    that's good. should save a lot on installations.

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