Designing by Dollars in a Wireless World

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the worst thing that can happen to the wireless industry is commoditization. Specifically, when I say commoditization, I am referring to the thinking that all WLANs are the same so we should just put out an RFQ and go with the lowest offer. Or, even worse, the quality of the WLAN can be determined by the price tag so we should just buy the most expensive solution we can afford. I’ve seen this happening more and more in the information security industry and I refuse to let it happen to the wireless industry without a fight. After all, look at all the good that commoditization has done for the state of security today.

Take a look at any industry and you will see examples of good products and bad products, feature-rich solutions and feature-poor solutions, feature-focused and unfocused solutions. There will always be a broad spectrum of craftsmanship to choose from but that doesn’t mean you can predict how well the solution will perform just by looking at the price tag. For example, give me a brand new Steinway & Sons Concert Grand Model D and I will play you a horrible rendition of Three Blind Mice. Take that same piano and give it to someone like Nora Jones and she’d play something that is much more worthy of such a fine instrument. When it comes to music, you can’t buy talent. Either you can play the piano well or you can’t and no amount of money is going to fix that.

The same holds true for WLANs. Either you, or your consultant, can design a WLAN properly or not. Give a skilled WLAN professional a low-cost WLAN solution and he/she will still be able to give you a functional and somewhat efficient WLAN. Conversely, give the top-line WLAN solution to an unskilled person and they will give you the type of WLAN disaster that will be used as a cautionary tale to others for years to come. How is this possible? The answer is quite simple, really. I’ve broken it down into three parts below:

  1. A skilled WLAN professional has a deep understand of the underlying technology. Instead of just learning which checkboxes to select, a WLAN professional makes a point of knowing what happens under-the-hood when any given checkbox is selected.
  2. A skilled WLAN professional probably has more experience deploying WLAN solutions. Remember the old saying: Practice makes perfect.
  3. Lastly, and this is probably the most important reason, a skilled WLAN professional designs a WLAN with the intention of fulfilling specific business needs instead of just to implement the latest and greatest technology. Start a WLAN deployment by focusing on why it is being deployed instead of on what is being deployed and your chances of a successful deployment will increase dramatically.

We owe it to ourselves not to let commoditization get the best of our wireless networks. Maybe you have the budget for the Concert Grand Model D of WLANs and maybe you don’t. Focus on your business needs and you may find that a regular run-of-the-mill up-right piano is all you really needed to make beautiful music.

Dan C. @simplywifi

Are you currently stuck in the piano store staring, wide-eyed at all of the choices? You’re not alone. Leave a comment or send us a message and we would be happy to discuss your business needs and get you started down the road to wireless success.

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