Small/Medium Business WLAN

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Small/Medium Business WLAN

Postposted on Thu May 13, 2010 5:24 pm

Hey guys, the business I work for is starting to get to the point where it really needs a REAL wireless solution. Currently, we're keeping up two separate networks (internal, for data, engineers, etc. and an external for anyone who needs Internet access). However, these are managed using consumer grade routers (a Netgear PoS and a WRT54G). After my spring quarter classes end in June, I'm hoping to replace the existing infrastructure with something more business oriented, especially something that will grow with them. However, this is outside the realm of my existing knowledge, which is why I come here :P and here's what I'm looking for:

-Simple solutions. I don't want to have to buy four hardware racks worth of crap.
-Not expensive. This also doesn't mean 'cheap', but spending $1000 per setup is almost assuredly out of the question.
-The solutions need to support solid bandwidth use by ~50 computers, each. Obviously, our network load is not currently at this state, but I could see it growing to there in a couple of years.
-Needs to support MAC filtering both ways, i.e. that it will have an allow list and a disallow list (or at the very least can function as either).
-Prefer to not have to get a CCNA just to figure it all out.
-802.11g/n support, WPA2 (these I assume are givens in this day and age).

That's about it in terms of requirements I have. I'm sure I'd have more, but I don't really know what I'm looking for. I've attempted googling but most of what I come up for read as paid advertisements, or are VERY old articles (2007 and earlier for the most part). I figure data from those just isn't reflective of the market today (though that could be wrong).
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CampinCarl
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Re: Small/Medium Business WLAN

Postposted on Thu May 13, 2010 7:16 pm

In your position, I would probably browse Ubiquiti's forums and maybe ask for suggestions there. They sell some gear that may be just what you are looking for. They may not support the level of MAC filtering you want though.

CampinCarl wrote:-The solutions need to support solid bandwidth use by ~50 computers, each.


I am not sure any form of WiFi is really up to that. This is especially the case if you have to support multiple client types (802.11b, g, and n or a and n) since they tend not to play nicely with each other. The 5GHz band could give you more available channels within the same area to split up the traffic. Assuming that the access points are in bridge mode and on the same IP subnet, roaming may even be possible.
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Re: Small/Medium Business WLAN

Postposted on Fri May 14, 2010 8:30 am

What's your budget and WLAN-client makeup?
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Re: Small/Medium Business WLAN

Postposted on Fri May 14, 2010 1:07 pm

Lots of questions, how large of an area do you need coverage? Do you want or need PoE? Do you want or need VLAN, WPA2, and/or authentication?

For our situation we went with three HP 2600-8-PWR PoE switches and 13 HP AP420 access points. The access points we bought on eBay for next to nothing. HP warranties the ProCurve stuff for life, so even if it's broke, they'll replace it free. The PoE switches were expensive; you can save $$$ on non-PoE switches, but the convenience factor is worth it. The whole thing was about $3000. I also use a spare PC running pfSense to handle routing/firewall/IPS duty, which is freaking fantastic.
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Re: Small/Medium Business WLAN

Postposted on Fri May 14, 2010 4:01 pm

Per setup do you mean, per PC? Or are you saying $1000 is the maximum...
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Re: Small/Medium Business WLAN

Postposted on Sun May 16, 2010 1:05 pm

Nitrodist: $1000 per network, roughly. The budget has a little bit of leeway though, perhaps up to $2000, but I doubt that I could convince my boss to spend more than that. Unless, of course, it's completely impossible to accomplish it for that price! (Thus, $2000-4000 for the total project.)

Drsauced: It's ~13000 ft². Single-level. I don't think we'll need PoE. Actually, I think I'll try to get a hold of the guy that originally ran our phone/ethernet lines and see if the setup can even support PoE. Could be handy though. VLAN isn't really a priority, as we'll be physically segregating the two networks, and I think that by the time VLAN will be handy to have, we'll have probably switched buildings :lol: . WPA2 and authentication are both necessary.

Contingency: By WLAN Client Makup, do you mean what type of 802.11 we have? All of it is 802.11G; except for one computer has an 802.11N/G card. We have one laptop that is really old that has only 802.11B but it's never hooked into either network, so I don't think it's a concern. I might want to support 802.11B if I can just because we sometimes have consultants, people from the parent company, etc. in and if they're running an old laptop with 802.11B and no G support, I don't want them to be hosed.

If you mean by what kind of traffic? The internal network is organized as a central data storage/database server and multiple (and different) workstations. Most of them are roughly 'dumb terminals' (though Windows machines) that operate for testing, and communicate with the server to load testing programs and to save information to our MySQL databases, as well as pulling drawing files for workers to look at. The remainder of the usage is the engineering. (Again, data is saved to the server). The external network is 'light' traffic for the most part, email, internet browsing. Mostly it's just the secretaries and the sales people.
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