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Wireless Networks Thread, Wireless standalone v managed in Technical; Hi all, Currently looking to upgrade our wireless provision, we currently (due to varying budgets and changing minds) have standalone ...
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    Red face Wireless standalone v managed

    Hi all,

    Currently looking to upgrade our wireless provision, we currently (due to varying budgets and changing minds) have standalone Cisco AP1142N access points. Initialy this was just ment to cover dead zones within the school but later they replaced the failed Extricom managed solution, that even Extricom couldnt find why it wasn't working. So we now have 1 AP between 2 classes plus 3 for other areas, so 8 in total.*

    This provision isn't enough as I find when 30 plus laptops are out in one area the login is pretty slow, have to say it does perform pretty well once logged in. So my original plan was to add more AP so there would be 1 per class, *I know this isnt the correct way of doing things and I should have a managed solution.*

    Cost to provide 6 more Cisco 1142N access points would be just under 2000 which I believe would provide the coverage I need. Looking at managed solutions would cost near 5000 *to provide similar coverage to what we already have. Do people think that the benefits of having the managed functionality outweigh standalone?

    Standalone - no central point of failure like managed - am I right in assuming a solution like Ruckus if the controller goes down so does the wireless AP?
    Managed - easily configure all access points but to be honest uploading a text file to a Cisco AP is hardly difficult am I missing something or is this a benefit just for networks where there is a lot more AP than myn?
    Managed - I've read that systems such as Ruckus will try force clients to other APs if a lot are connected does this really work well? From the description on the website it sounds like it will try to do it but can't promise! Do systems such as the ubiquity kit also do this?*
    Any other features that I am missing using standalone?*
    Anyone think that adding more Cisco APs would be ok?*

    Any help or thoughts would be great! Cheers in advance!

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    Another candidate for Ubiquiti Unifi (Search the forum for unifi for more info)
    I could go on about them being ideal for you but just buy a 3 pack (<200) and try them. (I was given this same advice 3 months ago and they are brilliant)

    Si

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    Cheers Si, but tbh what advantage would I get appart from saving money and centralised management? I know they sound like biggies but managment is no issue and I'm happy to spend the extra on Cisco that I know runs well, we have APs here that have an uptime of 42 weeks - would of been more if not for a power cut. What happens if you have a high concentration of devices to 1 AP does it automatically balance the clients to an adjecent AP?

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    Well i used to run a cisco managed wireless and it was terrible - the throughput on each AP wasn't good. I would deffo look for alternatives If i was replacing it.

    Edit: you need to ensure each AP has a gig connection otherwise you are always going to struggle.
    Last edited by glennda; 7th May 2012 at 11:08 PM.

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    Cheers Si, but tbh what advantage would I get appart from saving money and centralised management?
    And apart from the roads, what did the Romans give us?

    I know they sound like biggies but managment is no issue and I'm happy to spend the extra on Cisco that I know runs well, we have APs here that have an uptime of 42 weeks - would of been more if not for a power cut.
    At <200 for 3 - you can afford to suck and see - you've probably never thought of doing it that way before but this way you can just see for yourself without the agony of finding out you've made a mistake

    What happens if you have a high concentration of devices to 1 AP does it automatically balance the clients to an adjecent AP?
    Never tried it but the APs can be limited to a certain number of clients - buy some - try them and see what happens

    Si

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    As most people here know I run both Cisco and Unifi in parallel, not through choice I hasten to add.

    I have 17 Cisco Fat unmanaged APs on a hidden SSID running WEP (because the Palm OS barcode scanners can't use anything else) and the whole lot is on a dedicated network for access control systems that I have no access to or control over.
    This means I have to share the spectrum and provide controlled access to the Internet for upto 300 users on BYOD whilst at the same time providing LAN access to around 80 staff handhelds, smartphones and laptops.

    I went with Unifi because I could not afford to roll out another complex or expensive solution and have to abandon it had it caused any issues with the Cisco.

    A year later and 20 AP's later not a single complaint, I regularly get 30+ users on a single point and in one suite where I have 3 on low power in a 1,6,11 configuration I see the load balanced automatically with no issues.

    It has it's quirks such as its passive 24v PoE and its 100Mb Lan port and limited wireless uplink option all of which are addressed in the forthcoming Pro versions but those apart, it generally does exactly what I expected of it which is why I continue to recommend it to everyone that asks.

    With regards to controller failure if I loose the controller which happens to be a Ubuntu VM running on Hyper-V the system continues to work fine I just loose stats and guest access services such as captive portal and some ACL functions.

    The 802.11 standard specifies that the client is responsible for handoff so forcing a client off of a channel onto another radio is not a standard function but a vendor specific feature, Ubiquiti does not do this but can limit the number of clients allowed to associate to a specific radio.

    Forget Cisco config files, just plug a point in and hit the adopt button on the console in a minute or two your AP is up and running.

    There is no doubt that the managed systems regardless of vendor will provide you with a more stable and reliable solution the unmanaged Ciscos we have still do a fine job of scanning barcodes but hopefully that will soon disappear as we replace them with integrated scanning systems and RFID so I can claim the spectrum back and expand the site wifi even more.

    Im sure that adding a few more Cisco's will be fine if your up for managing them but as Si says it could be better in the long run to look at a managed system before spending a lot of money on something you can't manage at all.

    What Cisco's are you using? I insisted our access control vendor provided Dual band units that can be converted to Thin AP's just in case we ended up inheriting them.

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    We have just had a Ruckus system installed but haven’t had it long enough to really start using it properly yet. We used to just have two standalone netgear rangemax access points giving coverage in our laptop hut and a staff area which to be fair did a good job for what they cost.

    Controllers - With Ruckus if the controller goes off line you can’t connect to the wireless network (I just tried) but there is an option to have a second controller for redundancy if your pockets are deep enough!

    If you have a lot of access points a managed system is better, do you really want to try and manage what channels they are using when they are in range of each other / access points you have no control over in surrounding buildings? E.g. one of our access points just changed channel because it detected interference on the channel it was using.

    “So my original plan was to add more AP so there would be 1 per class, *I know this isnt the correct way of doing things and I should have a managed solution.*” – Ours is managed but with a few exceptions such as the reception block we still have installed one access point per class room.

    Note: Any system you buy into now is already out of date a new standard “802.11ac” (i.e. gigabit wireless) is in early development / production.

    Full steam ahead for gigabit wireless, report says - PC Advisor.

    A word of caution about the Ubiquiti Unifi that people are praising I’ve not used it but it did look interesting when we started looking at solutions. The cost comparison is amazing and is the main selling point until you look at the feature list if you want dual band, gig uplink, true POE etc, etc… then you have to buy the new pro access point which costs an awful lot more than their old standard ones. But if you only want basic access points then the cheap ones they do might be ok for you.

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    Thanks for the replies!
    @glennda, the throughput seems to be OK they are running on gig connections, it only seems to struggle when there is 35 laptops all trying to login at once, if logins are staggered it all seems to be OK. Thanks for the input about the Cisco controller never used one so a vote down especially as they are so expensive.
    @SimpleSi, I understand there is a lot of advantages but to me the only one that really interests me is the load balancing between access points, as standalone access points like my current setup won't do that.
    @m25man, Sounds like a complete headache, that's brill can't believe they work so well with that amount of client density. The problem at my end is that I never planned this wireless just total initial firefighting, now I have a lot of relatively new Cisco AP none over 2 years, do I replace them all with a new managed system that will cost around 5000 or add more AP for 2000. I guess I should just listen that the service will be more reliable I've read a lot of people say that.The access points are AP1142N-E-K9 did try to find out if this was possible, but the Cisco website has to be the most confusing thing, couldn't find anything in regards to converting them to LAP.
    @ToyHeartsFan, Kinda being swayed towards Ruckus, it does worry me that everything will go down if the controller does. Luckily we have no surrounding buildings in distance to cause interference, channels on auto I can walk around the building and the channels are appropriate and don't overlap. I believe if the costs are too high I may go for the managed solution but in some areas keep the Cisco APs till next years budget. Read similar about Unifi equipment which is why I was swayed towards Ruckus, but will keep an open mind with them all.

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    Michael's Avatar
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    I'm speculating that as you have 8 WAPs, that you're in a Primary school rather than Secondary. In my opinion it's a complete waste of money to have controllers for anything less than 100 WAPs. It's not difficult to obtain a site plan of a building and strategically set WAPs to the appropriate channel so they don't overlap. I've done this many times successfully.

    There's no single/central point of failure and if (for example) you needed to change the network password, or create another SSID, it's not going to take long at all. All WAPs are accessible via a browser, so they're just as easy to manage.

  10. Thanks to Michael from:

    SimpleSi (8th May 2012)

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    @Michael, damn thought everyone had decided for me, yep its a Primary so maximum I think we need is 15 AP for each of the classrooms, I really don't see how we would ever need more as we would never have funding to increase the current amount of devices.

    As for site plan and no overlap that's what I've done. I love that there is no central controller to fail, and as for configuration like I said it's a simple cisco config file uploaded to each AP, I received a replacement today and within 5mins the AP was back up attached to the wall and working.

    Damn confused again now!

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    Michael's Avatar
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    Well it's great you have different opinions/options, that's what Edugeek's all about. Ultimately you have the final say, but for 15 WAPs you really don't need a controller.

    In future as and when new wireless standards such as 802.11ac are finalised (as mentioned above), it's literally a case of taking out one WAP and replacing it with a newer one. I think wireless 'N' is generally becoming the norm these days, as I suspect 802.11ac will be expensive when it's initially released.

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    Totally agree about opinions options, I had literally just talked myself into the idea of a managed system.

    So in regards to balancing out clients between AP is there anything that can be done with standalone? We currently have an access point between 2 classes, I was planning to up this to an access point per class, but will the clients just chose the closest AP? Making a managed system such as the Ruckus the preferred solution?

    I've read that the Cisco AP's should have 15 to 20 clients not sure if this is correct or not was on the Cisco forums.

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    @beany1 - your not listening (I know you are but you haven't had your eureka moment yet )

    BUY 3 FOR <200 - thats 10% of your proposed spending - if you didn't like them you'd even be able to flog them on here for a significant percentage of your cost price and at most you'd lose 100.

    I know you proably have never done such a thing before but its time to take a leap of (very low risk/cost) faith.

    And if you want some Ruckus - I'll sell you the 6AP Setup from one of my schools for the price of 12 Unifis (About 800)

    Si

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    Quote Originally Posted by beany1 View Post
    ...will the clients just chose the closest AP?
    In a standalone environment, wireless devices will choose the closest/strongest WAP, but if they're all the same make/model (recommended), then it'll work just fine. Sometimes mixing/matching different makes of WAP (not recommended) can create problems.

    At one site quite recently, a technician had different makes/models of WAP and some were configured with WPA and others WPA2. In practice it created some serious problems and the whole thing was just pants frankly, but I quickly turned it around and all is well

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    @SimpleSi I've known less insistent sales men do you work on commission?

    I know what your saying, but 3 for <200 i'm assuming this is the 11b/g with 100mb uplink APs? the bandwidth of my current 11a/b/g/n with gigabit connection are currently stretched.

    So 3 unifi APs with combined 300mb uplink and 150mb max wireless compared with 1 Cisco access point with 1000mb uplink and 300mb max wireless for 290.

    Am I being daft, cause to me that doesn't work out. Wouldn't that mean I required 6 in the same area as 1 Cisco?

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