Analyzing requirements: The foundation for a successful wireless LAN

ITworld.com |  Networking

Before you purchase components for a wireless LAN, make sure you specify what the
system should do. Surprisingly, many businesses overlook this crucial step. Incomplete
and missing requirements are the major reason such LANs fail, leading to time-consuming
and expensive attempts to correct the inadequacies of the installed system.

Be certain to first define the following requirements:

  • Coverage and mobility. Specifying the coverage, or
    area where the end-users will operate the wireless devices, helps the designer
    determine the number and location of wireless LAN access points. Mobility
    requirements derive from the movement of users through the coverage areas. For example,
    a wireless network in a hospital may need to provide continuous connectivity in
    specific wards and clinics, but not within operating rooms and office areas.

It's generally best to illustrate the coverage areas on drawings of the facility or
building.

  • Application requirements. These specify the transmission needs
    of the software that will operate over the wireless LAN. For example, warehouse
    management system software requires the transmission of relatively low-bandwidth
    bar-code information between wireless handheld bar-code scanners and a host computer. A
    HREF="http://www.itworld.com/jitw/2522ColGeier2522/cma/ett_article_frame/0,,1_1318.html"
    > desktop video application, however, requires the transmission of realtime video
    signals. How frequently you expect to use these different information types helps
    determine the design specifications for your data transmission rate and
    throughput.
  • Number of users. Simply put, this is the number of devices that
    require access to the wireless LAN. Be sure to allow for future expansion.
  • End-user device types. Included in this category are laptop
    computers, bar-code data collectors, and mobile patient monitors. You should identify
    the available physical interfaces -- such as PC Card, PCI, ISA, or USB -- for each
    device.
  • Battery longevity. For mobile and portable applications,
    specify the length of time the end-user devices need to operate on a set of batteries.
    A mobile patient-monitoring device, for example, may need to operate for at least 72
    hours, the typical length of an inpatient hospital stay. This information indicates
    whether wireless LAN components need to support power-management functions.
  • System interfaces. Most likely, the wireless LAN will have to
    interface with existing systems such as Ethernet networks, applications, and databases.
    The system interface requirements describe the architectures and communications
    protocols of these systems.
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