Analyzing requirements: The foundation for a successful wireless LAN
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
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
> 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
require access to the wireless LAN. Be sure to allow for future expansion.
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
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.
interface with existing systems such as Ethernet networks, applications, and databases.
The system interface requirements describe the architectures and communications
protocols of these systems.
your data needs from particular threats. The degree of needed security depends on the
severity of the consequences the organization faces if data is lost. Military and law
enforcement agencies require high-level security. Other organizations probably require
much lower levels. These requirements determine whether you should include mechanisms
such as encryption.
humidity, construction materials, floor space, and presence and intensity of
electromagnetic waves could affect the operation of the system. In most cases, you
should perform a site survey to inspect the facility and evaluate the presence of
potential radio-frequency interference.
schedule, such as the availability of funds, an urgency to see a return on investment,
the availability of project team members, and the interdependency between this project
and others. Spell out the schedule requirements so the team knows the time frames it
must work within.
spend on the wireless LAN. If you know the budget constraints, it's best to identify
them in the requirements.
By defining these requirements, you'll have made a solid foundation for designing a
wireless LAN. Next time I'll cover your next step: determining the components and
configurations that meet specific requirements.