As of 2015, the Hollins Campus WiFi network had approximately 119 Access Points (APs). The ability to centrally configure, manage and monitor this equipment is critical and enables an efficient and seamless WiFi environment. An enterprise environment requires hardware that has a greater feature set and functionality than products meant for the home/single family use.
A home AP supports approximately 10 devices simultaneously connected before performance degradation occurs. The typical home AP has limited features and settings, supports one SSID (network name) and in some cases an additional guest SSID, is powered and managed locally. Security is usually limited to WPA/WPA2 Pre-shared Key (PSK). There may be limited or no support for enterprise authentication methods.
An enterprise AP is more robust and versatile than a typical home AP.
It is designed to:
- be installed and work with many other APs,
- support many (20-30) devices simultaneously connected
- support multiple SSIDs,
- react to changing environments in real time,
- coordinate and be managed with many other APs from a single interface.
Enterprise AP features include:
- A high performance radio—has a more efficient radio chipset that allows more devices to connect to the network.
- Increased processor capability.
- More memory capacity.
- Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN): support allowing for segmentation of various user groups, accommodating clients with different security requirements and capabilities. An example would be that guests are not allowed on the student, faculty and staff network.
- Quality of Service (QoS): prioritizing traffic for different application requirements, necessary for voice and video performance.
- Fast/secure roaming: allowing authenticated clients to roam securely from one AP to another without perceptible delay.
- Advanced encryption and user authentication standards, including TKIP and AES, 802.1X and EAP-based authentication, support for RADIUS server user registries.
- Scalability and extensibility—Features and settings that accommodate the size and uniqueness of campus buildings as well as the ability to successfully integrate with other campus systems such as authentication, monitoring and logging tools.
- Configurable transmit power—enables the Radio Frequency (RF) to be customized for the individual location or use. This allows for increased number of devices to be used in a single area without degrading the performance of the APs.
- Support for 802.11a/b/g/n and 802.11ac as it matures.
- Support for Power over Ethernet (POE) rather than having a power outlet next to every AP.
- Vendor support for interoperability, feature enhancements, bug fixes, etc.