WLAN management: The standards lineup

A trio of IEEE standards, in various states of completion, are designed to help improve enterprise management of wireless networks and devices

A trio of IEEE standards, in various states of completion, are designed to help improve enterprise management of wireless networks and devices.

•  802.11e, an approved standard that defines a set of QoS enhancements for LAN applications.

•  802.11k, a proposed standard for radio resource measurement that will provide client feedback to wireless LAN access points and switches.

•  802.11v, a proposed standard that defines the procedures by which a wireless infrastructure controls parameters on wireless client adapters, such as identifying to which network or access point the adapter should connect.

The 802.11e standard, which is supported by products today, is particularly important for enterprises that want to run voice over Wi-Fi, says Paul DeBeasi, a senior analyst at the Burton Group.

Next up on the management standards front is 802.11k, which lets the network monitor what's happening on a laptop from a radio-frequency point of view, such as measuring signal quality. It will be a couple of years before 802.11v, which will let the network control user devices, is ironed out.

"When you have those two things - the k and the v - the wireless network can really then control what's happening on the laptop. It can tell the laptop, 'Don't connect here, connect over here. Don't use this channel, use that channel. Don't move now, but in two minutes move,'" DeBeasi says. Cellular networks work that way - a phone doesn't make decisions about what tower to connect to, the communications network does so that it can ensure a reliable, seamless handoff.

"That's how 802.11 is evolving with these new standards. The Wi-Fi network will become more like a cellular network, and when it does that, you'll be able to have much greater reliability, much more robust, predictable performance," DeBeasi says. "You'll be able to run mission-critical applications, such as voice, over the network and have very strong management capability built in," he says.

< Return to main story: The quandary of managing the wired with the wireless networks >

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