CEDIA’s Own Network Overhaul: Qualifying an Enterprise Customer
CEDIA is updating its own network with new systems from Access Networks. Here’s part one of the installation, featuring six key considerations for spec’ing a network in a commercial space.
While CEDIA has been preaching rock-solid home networks for years, the organization is finally practicing what it preaches by overhauling its own network infrastructure.
With design help from Access Networks, and support from other CEDIA members including Middle Atlantic, CEDIA is “deciding to set an example for the industry by ’owning the network’ to the fullest extent,” says Sarah Fleishman, director of marketing for Access Networks.
Like many organizations, CEDIA started building its network years ago with over-the-counter solutions, adding to the project as the organization grew and its needs changed.
Now that CEDIA is practically a brand new company from its early days of networking, the association is starting from scratch.
With the CEDIA project in mind, Access Networks prepared these six tips for assessing the needs of a networking project:
1. Square footage and building materials
Materials such as interior concrete, masonry and brick can impact wireless coverage by blocking signal from room to room.
CEDIA has about 20,000 square feet of space, most of it open, consisting of drywall and metal studs. The materials create less interference than brick, for example.
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2. Floor plans and building layout
Access Networks design engineers use floor plans to create a solution that maximizes wireless coverage and determines optimal hidden placement for access points and Ethernet switches (if applicable).
After looking at the layout and building materials, the designers determined they could cover the space with four access points because of the mostly open floor plan. In terms of wireless coverage, CEDIA’s open-space floor plan made this deployment easier than a typical residential deployment.
3. Required port count
When designing a network, it is important to understand how many ports are needed, especially if multiple switches are needed throughout the property.
CEDIA’s network required 120 ports at the head-end (core), with an additional 24-port switch in the training center and an 8-port switch in the server room.
4. Multiple structures on property?
Projects with multiple structures can be connected seamlessly to a single network using copper or fiber, depending on distance.
CEDIA has a mock-up of a house in the middle of their training center. They needed to run wires there for a redundant uplink to a switch (24-port) that also has an AP on it dedicated to the training center.
5. Automation system or large streaming media players
The size and scope of technology in the home will determine the type of network needed, as VLAN segmentation.
CEDIA plans on installing an automation system now that the new network is installed. The old network had an issue supporting all users reliably. People got “booted off” the wireless network and their cloud-based software was running slowly simply because their network did not have the capacity to handle the constant traffic and file-upload and -download to and from the cloud.
6. Guest access
To protect private information, a guest network can be set up to provide visitors Internet access without giving them access to other devices or secure information on the network.
At CEDIA there are corporate guests, guests at the training center (trainees), and employees that also use their Windows login credentials to on-board their personal devices. In essence, the client has three classes of users that are all using separate VLANs with the appropriate access rules so they can get what they need out of the wireless network without compromising CEDIA’s data.
In the end, the new network will be fully redundant, meaning that if one part fails at any time, the system will continue to run without disruption.
The network also will be fully visible, featuring a wireless controller and layer-3 switches that log their actions in real time. If a problem should arise, Access engineers can log in remotely to quickly diagnose and resolve the issue.
This network will include VLANs to manage traffic prioritization and segmentation of the network, as well as VPN capabilities, separate guest access, and dual-band wireless access points managed in real time by a wireless controller
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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