November 2009

Strategic Alliance Partners

22AG cards

White Paper: Mobility

Wi-Fi client security series, part 3

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White Paper: Wi-Fi Roaming Remains Challenging

While Wi-Fi® security has received a great deal of press, Wi-Fi mobility has not, even though many organizations struggle to provide reliable Wi-Fi connectivity to devices that are on the move. A new white paper from Summit explains why Wi-Fi mobility is important, how it works, and why providing reliable mobility can be a challenge.

Mobility requires roaming. A Wi-Fi client connects to a network through an infrastructure endpoint device such as an access point (AP). When the client moves to a position where its connection to that AP becomes suboptimal, the client will try to switch to an AP that provides better connectivity. The process of switching from one AP to another is called roaming.

"The challenge is to maintain an active network connection while you roam," says Chris Bolinger, the paper’s primary author. "Many business-critical applications require a persistent network connection, and a disruption of as little as 100 milliseconds can cause an application to fail. When applications fail, organizations incur significant expenses from errors and lost productivity." Some Wi-Fi infrastructure products attempt to play a proactive role in AP selection by steering a roaming client toward a particular AP and, in some situations, forcing a roam by severing a client’s current connection. When clients run applications that require a persistent connection, infrastructure-assisted roaming can be disruptive and cause application failures. As the white paper explains, the optimal approach is to use clients with proven capabilities for fast and secure roaming in any environment.

To view a summary of this and other Summit white papers, visit the Support section of the Summit Web site.