In recent years, the technology industry has been shifting towards software-defined networking (SDN), and the WiFi component is no exception. Software-defined WiFi (SD-WiFi) is a technology that enables the creation of intelligent, automated and highly adaptable wireless networks. In this article, we’ll define SD-WiFi, explore what drives the need for it and examine how it improves end-user experience.
What is SD-WiFi?
SD-WiFi is a wireless network architecture that uses a single pane of glass to manage and control the various aspects of WiFi networks, including access points, switches and controllers. It enables IT teams to centrally manage and monitor their WiFi networks, making it easy to identify and troubleshoot network issues in real-time. Furthermore, SD-WiFi allows network administrators to make policy changes and implement new configurations with minimal manual intervention.
Poor WiFi could be costing your business money
Everyone has encountered connectivity issues at one time or another. And while the end-user often doesn’t know the source of the problem, it often stems from common network issues such as lack of scalability, complex network configurations or difficulty in managing multiple access points. Frustratingly it can be intermittent and very difficult and time-consuming to diagnose and fix. And equally frustratingly for Service Desks, the problem can be as simple as a mistyped password or a firmware update on an end-user device. Nevertheless, no matter where the problem stems from, poor connectivity means poor business productivity.
What’s more, users often fail to raise trouble tickets for WiFi performance issues, so it’s difficult for network administrators to be aware of the problem. Combined with lost productivity, this can be expensive for a business. This is especially relevant for businesses with temporary users, for example retail, hospitality and education. When was the last time a dreadful WiFi experience at a shopping mall made you raise a trouble ticket?
How SD-WiFi solves connectivity issues
SD-WiFi confronts the above-listed issues head-on, so network administrators can spend less time troubleshooting and end-users face fewer connectivity problems. How? By enabling:
Centralised network management to simplify configuration and troubleshooting processes.
AI-Driven analysis to identify issues proactively and boost performance.
Scalability and flexibility to accommodate the fluctuating needs of businesses and eliminate the need for manual configuration of access points.
What can SD-WiFi do for you?
We want to support you in being productive anywhere, anytime and anyplace – and believe SD-WiFi is a cornerstone for successful operation of any modern business.
Improve end-user experience by making the network invisible. This way, users focus on your business, not on how the network is performing.
Reduce management overhead – up to 95% reduction in the number of trouble tickets and much faster problem resolution.
Enhanced performance through WiFi-6 and 6GHz-capable access points.
Seamless roaming to transition between access points without disruptions.
Advanced location services through class-leading support for low-energy Bluetooth – for devices and tagged assets.
Internet of Things enabling enhanced security through network segmentation – manage what ‘things’ are allowed on your network and control what they are allowed to do.
Using location services to get the best out of SD-WiFi
In addition to overall better wireless connectivity, SD-WiFi can enhance location services in various contexts. Here are some use cases of how it is helping businesses now:
Further and higher education:
Campus navigation: SD-WiFi can provide positioning and wayfinding services, enabling students, faculty and visitors to navigate large campuses more efficiently. It can guide users to specific buildings, classrooms, offices or facilities.
Attendance tracking: By integrating SD-WiFi with student identification systems, attendance can be automatically recorded based on the presence of students within designated areas. This eliminates the need for manual attendance taking and provides accurate data for administrative purposes.
Safeguarding: Find people quickly when necessary – SD-WiFi has accuracy down to one to three metres, where in the past this was closer to 15 metres and couldn’t even identify the floor that someone was on.
Shopping experience: SD-WiFi can be used to deliver personalized offers, promotions and recommendations to customers based on their presence at a retail store. It can also provide indoor navigation to help shoppers find specific products or departments, enhancing their overall experience.
Movement around displays: By leveraging SD-WiFi, retailers can analyze customer movement patterns within the store. This information can be used to optimize store layouts, product placements and the arrangement of displays to increase customer engagement and sales.
Wait times: SD-WiFi can estimate and communicate wait times for rides and attractions in real-time. By collecting data from connected devices and analyzing movement patterns, theme park operators can provide accurate wait time information to visitors, enabling them to plan their activities effectively.
Capacity management: SD-WLAN can monitor the number of devices connected to different areas of the park. This in turn allows operators to track crowd density and manage capacity in real-time. Management can use this information to distribute visitors across the park, preventing overcrowding and optimizing the overall visitor experience.
It’s not just about services for people — SD-WiFi is also able to track important items.
Warehouses and distribution: Tagging assets so they are easier to find, and track when they leave the building – or even track that Scanner you put down ‘somewhere’.
Healthcare: Track portable medical equipment or wheelchairs.
SD-WiFi simply enables more efficient WiFi environment. According to NTT, using a managed WLAN service with Mist’s AI-driven platform – such as the one available within Proact’s SD-Connect package – can result in saving over 40% in OpEx costs.
Contact us to learn more about boosting employee productivity and improving end-user experience with SD-WiFi.