Technology Integrator February 2013 : Page 20

IPIQ BY Martin Boulter, luxul CustoMer serviCes Manager Professional installer’s Guide to iP networkinG Part II of a Series Martin Boulter W ith AV, security, and home automation systems all running over IP networks, professional installers have a tremen-dous opportunity to grow their businesses by offering networking solutions. While installing an IP network can be a daunting task for the uninitiated, by understanding the purpose and function of a few key components—as well as what to look for when selecting those compo-nents—a professional installer can easily learn to deliver reliable and powerful IP networking solutions. Last month, we covered modems and routers; read on for more information about additional key components. Ethernet Switches is typically the best option. Also, be sure the switch supports full upstream and downstream bandwidth (sometimes referred to as non-blocking architecture). Wireless Access Points (AP) An ethernet switch is required when the num-ber of router ports is not sufficient to provide connections to all the devices on a network. Switches are the backbone of the private net-work, allowing locally connected devices to talk to each other, as well as access router services. There are two primary types of switches: 1. Unmanaged (sometimes referred to as dumb) switches provide simple plug-and-play connec-tivity between devices on the network. 2. Managed (smart) switches allow you to enhance the user experience by optimizing the network for certain applications. Common managed switch features include: • Quality of Services (QoS) Settings: Useful for prioritizing certain types of network traffic, such as VoIP phone services, to ensure such traffic gets through first. • Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) Support: Allows partitioning of ports in a large switch into multiple logical smaller switches that can-not speak with each other, but still share a single connection to the Internet. This is useful for setting up dedicated networks with different functions (e.g., a guest network). • Security features such as media access con -trol (MAC) binding and radius server authen-tication. Another thing to consider is the switch speed. Fast ethernet (10/100 Mbps) switches are a cost-effective common standard. However, for high data usage (e.g., streaming media serv-ers), Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbps) 20 Think of a wireless AP as a switch that does not require network devices to have a physical con-nection. As there are a number of wireless net-working methods and technologies, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, we will cover this topic in greater detail in a future arti-Client Devices cle. For now, we will simply discuss the basic At the end of the day, the only real reason to issues to be considered. set up an IP network is to enable the efficient With wireless networking, there is no “one use of client devices. Whether the application size fits all” solution. APs come in a wide variety is security, entertainment, VoIP , home control, of flavors, form factors, and performance options. or just plain Internet access, a successful instal-Consider the following lation is dependent when selecting an AP: not only on the qual-• Coverage Area: ity of the network Output power, type itself, but also on the of antennas used and devices used on the the technology stand-network. Regardless ards implemented of how well the all play a role in network performs, how much cover-devices selected for age you can expect use on the network with a given AP . For can make or break example, a standard the customer experi-consumer-grade AP ence. Common client devices that run on an IP network typically has 100mW While installers of output power and will reasonably cover don’t always have control over the client devic-2,000+ square feet. A high powered AP , such as es being used on a network, in cases where the Luxul Xen AP series provides 1000mW of devices are provided (e.g., security cameras, output power and will typically cover 10,000 control panels, AV equipment, etc.), be sure to square feet or more. use products that are proven to function well in IP networking environments. With wireless • AP Placement: Depending on where the AP devices—especially those that are mobile—this will be placed can determine the type of AP to becomes even more important. As with all net-use. For example, if placed in the center of the working equipment, networking devices are not desired coverage area, an AP with omnidirec-tional antennas is optimal, while placement at all created equal, and some perform much bet-the edge of desired coverage is better served ter than others. For professional installers, IP networking is with the use of a directional antenna. AP aes-as complex or as simple as you make it. While thetics may also play a role in the selection pro-it takes time and effort to become proficient cess if placement must be on a wall, ceiling or at network implementation, focusing on and other high traffic area. learning the basics goes a long way towards • Environmental Issues: The environment can delivering a solution that satisfies the needs of play a role in determining which AP to use. Outdoor implementations will certainly require the majority of your customers. CR CustomRetailer • February 2013 an outdoor rated AP . For indoor applications, the type of construction can impact the effec-tiveness of wireless signals and determine the choice of AP . There are a number of wireless survey tools that can help identify environmental issues, as well as be used to demonstrate network reach and effectiveness to the customer. These tools include Kperf/Iperf, InSSIDer, and Ekahau Heatmapper.

IPIQ

Martin Boulter

PROFESSIONAL INSTALLER'S GUIDE TO IP NETWORKING<br /> <br /> Part II of a Series<br /> <br /> With AV, security, and home automation systems all running over IP networks, professional installers have a tremendous opportunity to grow their businesses by offering networking solutions. While installing an IP network can be a daunting task for the uninitiated, by understanding the purpose and function of a few key components—as well as what to look for when selecting those components— a professional installer can easily learn to deliver reliable and powerful IP networking solutions. Last month, we covered modems and routers; read on for more information about additional key components.<br /> <br /> Ethernet Switches<br /> <br /> An ethernet switch is required when the number of router ports is not sufficient to provide connections to all the devices on a network. Switches are the backbone of the private network, allowing locally connected devices to talk to each other, as well as access router services.<br /> <br /> There are two primary types of switches:<br /> <br /> 1. Unmanaged (sometimes referred to as dumb) switches provide simple plug-and-play connectivity between devices on the network.<br /> <br /> 2. Managed (smart) switches allow you to enhance the user experience by optimizing the network for certain applications. Common managed switch features include:<br /> <br /> Quality of Services (QoS) Settings: Useful for prioritizing certain types of network traffic, such as VoIP phone services, to ensure such traffic gets through first.<br /> <br /> Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) Support: Allows partitioning of ports in a large switch into multiple logical smaller switches that cannot speak with each other, but still share a single connection to the Internet. This is useful for setting up dedicated networks with different functions (e.g., a guest network).<br /> <br /> Security features such as media access control (MAC) binding and radius server authentication.<br /> <br /> Another thing to consider is the switch speed. Fast ethernet (10/100 Mbps) switches are a cost-effective common standard. However, for high data usage (e.g., streaming media servers), Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbps) is typically the best option. Also, be sure the switch supports full upstream and downstream bandwidth (sometimes referred to as nonblocking architecture).<br /> <br /> Wireless Access Points (AP)<br /> <br /> Think of a wireless AP as a switch that does not require network devices to have a physical connection. As there are a number of wireless networking methods and technologies, each with its own advantages and disadvantages, we will cover this topic in greater detail in a future article. For now, we will simply discuss the basic issues to be considered.<br /> <br /> With wireless networking, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Aps come in a wide variety of flavors, form factors, and performance options. Consider the following when selecting an AP:<br /> <br /> Coverage Area: Output power, type of antennas used and the technology standards implemented all play a role in how much coverage you can expect with a given AP. For example, a standard consumer-grade AP typically has 100mW of output power and will reasonably cover 2,000+ square feet. A high powered AP, such as the Luxul Xen AP series provides 1000mW of output power and will typically cover 10,000 square feet or more.<br /> <br /> AP Placement: Depending on where the AP will be placed can determine the type of AP to use. For example, if placed in the center of the desired coverage area, an AP with omnidirectional antennas is optimal, while placement at the edge of desired coverage is better served with the use of a directional antenna. AP aesthetics may also play a role in the selection process if placement must be on a wall, ceiling or other high traffic area.<br /> <br /> Environmental Issues: The environment can play a role in determining which AP to use. Outdoor implementations will certainly require an outdoor rated AP. For indoor applications, the type of construction can impact the effectiveness of wireless signals and determine the choice of AP.<br /> <br /> There are a number of wireless survey tools that can help identify environmental issues, as well as be used to demonstrate network reach and effectiveness to the customer. These tools include Kperf/Iperf, InSSIDer, and Ekahau Heatmapper.<br /> <br /> Client Devices <br /> <br /> At the end of the day, the only real reason to set up an IP network is to enable the efficient use of client devices. Whether the application is security, entertainment, VoIP, home control, or just plain Internet access, a successful installation is dependent not only on the quality of the network itself, but also on the devices used on the network. Regardless of how well the network performs, devices selected for use on the network can make or break the customer experience.<br /> <br /> While installers don’t always have control over the client devices being used on a network, in cases where devices are provided (e.g., security cameras, control panels, AV equipment, etc.), be sure to use products that are proven to function well in IP networking environments. With wireless devices—especially those that are mobile—this becomes even more important. As with all networking equipment, networking devices are not all created equal, and some perform much better than others.<br /> <br /> For professional installers, IP networking is as complex or as simple as you make it. While it takes time and effort to become proficient at network implementation, focusing on and learning the basics goes a long way towards delivering a solution that satisfies the needs of the majority of your customers.<br />

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