Wireless networking is amazing stuff. When you first learn the nitty-gritty of how clients access the medium and the orchestrated nuances of timing, modulation, and propagation, it can make your head spin. Add to it a rapid evolution where each improvement on the original 802.11 standard brings an order of magnitude more benefit (and complexity) and you really have to appreciate the incredible engineering minds that come up with this stuff.
Sure, it’s easy for the rest of us to “arm-chair quarterback” all of the things that we think our wireless networks should do. And that brings us to here and now. I would love to see the WLAN industry embrace the following three suggestions (and will even waive my name being in the credits at the end of the movie if wireless makers follow through and give me what I want):
1. Every WLAN maker should provide a single-gang, flush-mount AP so we can leverage the huge and frequently unused already-installed premise wiring infrastructure. I understand lofty topics like heat generation, space constraints on high-performance dual-band 11n radio assemblies and all that. But I’d even be happy with single-band, low power “micro cell” kinda things that, in the right situation, negated the need to run new wiring and allowed me to make use of some the thousands of unused UTP runs I have installed as ever more users ditch the Ethernet cable and go with wireless. Such an access point would open up huge possibilities. (A couple of vendors already do this, but I want ALL WLAN makers to do it, as there is no interoperability between vendors.)
2. Give us a “virtual client” troubleshooting utility. I want to be able to turn an in-place AP into a client device, and remotely use it to exercise every SSID, DHCP pool, RADIUS server, and path from the wireless environment to the rest of the network whenever I feel like it. This would let me “be” anywhere I want to test critical network functions without leaving the comfort of my office. As a bonus, I would be able to schedule the functionality. The key here is that I don’t want to pay for a pricey overlay to get the described functionality- I want it from my already-purchased pricey WLAN.
3. Finally, with every major code upgrade, I don’t just want release notes in a cold PDF that I have to wade through to glean what I’m getting into. I’d love an accompanying podcast or video in plain English that gets to the meat of what’s important. Something like Blake Krone and Andrew vonNagy interviewing Cisco For “No Strings Attached” when the 3600 AP was released would be the proverbial cat’s ass. Having the truly important parts of the new feature set introduced along with the potential gotchas in podcast or video form and without the taint of marketingspeak before the upgrade would rock.
And there you have my wish list for today.
If the WLAN industry gets ambitious and meets my demands quickly and then wants something else to do, please get with the printer industry and teach them what it takes to make wireless printers actually function on secure business WLANs.