Headquarters and Campus Wi-Fi
Headquarters and campus locations are characterized by large concentrations of users, often in multiple buildings in a campus environment. These networks have predominantly been deployed as convenience networks for guest and meeting room access. More recently, large organizations have been looking to use their wireless LAN as the primary access layer for client connectivity in order to improve productivity through user mobility, and reduce the cabling and switching costs associated with an Ethernet connection to every device. In addition, many of the new client devices being used in the enterprise, and in particular industries, are mobile internet devices (MIDs), such as iPads and iPhones, which do not actually have an Ethernet port. These new devices and mobile applications require increased coverage, performance, and availability from the wireless LAN. This has driven the requirement for 802.11n and has enterprises re-evaluating their wireless architecture.
Headquarters Wi-Fi Networking Solution
A typical WLAN controller-based deployment in a large campus backhauls all of the wireless traffic to a small number of large controllers located in the data center or in the DMZ (a demilitarized zone in network computing). While this can be relatively cost effective, it presents several challenges:
- Latency and jitter caused by backhauling and U-turning through the WLAN controller
- Policy and quality-of-service (QoS) is not enforced at the edge where it is most important
- The WLAN controller becomes a performance bottleneck as traffic increases and 802.11n is deployed
- As more APs are added to provide better coverage, voice support, and throughput – costly WLAN controller upgrades are required
To address these issues, some controller vendors have started to distribute the data forwarding function to the access points. While this allows for traffic to be more directly forwarded onto the LAN and does mean that the controller is no longer a performance bottleneck, it does not eliminate it as a single point of failure as the intelligence, or control functions, such as channel selection, security, authentication, and QoS are still delivered by the controller. In many cases, the traffic still needs to be forwarded via the controller to get the full enterprise Wi-Fi feature set offered by the vendor.
Aerohive Networks takes a different approach. Our cooperative control architecture provides all the management, mobility, and security needed in these headquarters locations, but without needing to backhaul traffic to centralized controllers. This provides a cleaner network architecture where resiliency is integral to the network architecture. It means that traffic is directly forwarded onto the best path, QoS and policy are enforced right at the edge of the network where it is needed most, and bandwidth and coverage easily scale as more access points are deployed, without having to worry about costly WLAN controller upgrades.