Angel Kwiatkowski from Cohere and DIY Coworking asked me to help her write a blog post talking about WiFi hardware. I recommend Unifi here although the concepts and components are the same in any enterprise class system. Here is a little bit of the Q and A we did.
Angel: Okay, everyone is talking about Unifi. When I originally looked into that system I was pretty baffled by all the different vocabulary and devices you can “tack on” with the Unifi system. Can you give us a breakdown and layman’s explanation of the difference between an access point, controller or cloud key and security gateway? Is each component really necessary?
Jacob: Yes, every component is necessary and even in simplified systems every component is there. Let’s take a look and identify each component in a network.
- A “modem” or the device that converts the coax, fiber, or phone line connection into your internet service.
- A router (aka firewall or security gateway) that directs traffic from each device inside your office to the various systems on the internet and protects internal clients from external users.
- Wireless Access Points (AP) that convert wired ethernet connections into wireless radio signals (WiFi).
- A switch that connects all the devices together via Ethernet and possibly even provides power to devices (PoE).
- Business class systems have an added component which is the WiFi controller. When a device is connecting to the network there are a number of variables that affect the quality of that connection from wall thickness, how much metal is between the device and the AP, or other wireless networks in the vicinity. A controller continuously evaluates the signal strength and make adjustments to the network to increase reliability and quality of service.
Angel: Most smaller spaces are going to try to DIY their IT. Should operators have a line item to pay an IT company? What should an operator be looking for in a freelance or contract IT service?
Jacob: You are always going to need help as technology is continuously evolving and what members need changes all the time. Technology is too often treated like a project that is completed and then forgotten.
In reality this only leads to unfortunate surprises down the road. Also, keep in mind that your internet service provider (ISP) is not going to help you diagnose your WiFi problems. It’s best to build relationships early so that you are not scrambling to find people when there is a problem.
You can find the full post here: https://www.diycoworking.com/blog/2019/12/16/oq7xm0evpm1hwf8ks8rw322ghfwzf8
I hope you find this helpful. It was a fun project to collaborate on with Angel and I’m glad I could contribute to the amazing set of resources she has available at DIY Coworking.