It is very hard to go anywhere nowadays without running into a wireless hotspot. There are business and guest networks everywhere, some are free and some arefor a fee. Last week, while on a Southwest Airlines flight back to Dallas from Greenville, South Carolina, I paid my $5 Internet fee and was connected with no problem. During this hour and a half I was able to get quite a bit of work completed, as well as kill some time browsing the Internet. When I say work I mean access files, work in our quoting app, and of course clean up some email.
As a business it is almost becoming a necessity to provide this for your employees and for clients/vendor partners. The key is to make sure the network is secured, RELIABLE, follows your acceptable use policy (guest network), and is easy to manage.
Best Practice Setup
As with everything in IT there is more than one way to bring about a solution; however, here is the method most common for Axxys:
At the network level we either recommend a layer 3 switch or a layer 2 switch with routing capability. This will allow for the splitting of the guest and production networks, but still allow them to share the same connection out to the main wireless network. More secure! A wireless controller is recommended for managing the overall wireless network, as well as the individual access points. A controller offers many features like authentication services for devices/end users, access point management/configuration, ability to encrypt traffic, and the ability to create custom acceptance pages before they can have access to the network. From an individual access point perspective it really depends but the first step to figuring this out is to have a wireless assessment completed. Just so happens we have made the investment in the technology to provide this service.
The best solution is to have two different Internet connections and a firewall that supports multiple connections. The benefit is that it allows you to assign content filtering policies based on the connections. We accomplish this with the WatchGuard firewall. You simply don’t want a guest network to saturate your production Internet bandwidth.
You need one. But if you’re going to do this it needs to be done right.
So come on, be a contributor to the growing world of Wi-Fi. With the right solution you can protect your business/guests, give your users access to a secure mobile network, and provide connectivity to partners and clients.