Best practice is described as ‘commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective’ according to the dictionary.
Most vendors publish the best practice related to general usage of the system, specific features, supported numbers related to scalability etc.
This document, article, link or pdf is often used as a reference point by the TAC teams of the vendor. Someone opens a case escalating a problem, the TAC engineer validates the data based on the configuration file, logs or tech dump file in general and provide recommendations to be implemented according to the best practice.
Each vendor tests each firmware release with a series of scenarios based on recommended setup. Having similar setup with a design or feature in the Wi-Fi network makes it more stable and less susceptible to odd behavior of the system. That”s why on all aspects of a lifecycle of the Wi-Fi network, the vendor’s recommendations and best practices must be implemented. It saves money, down time, SLA breaches etc.
I have worked with wireless networks from all 3 x leaders of the ‘Magic Quadrant for the Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure‘ by Gartner: Cisco, Extreme Networks and HPE (Aruba).
With 8.X version of firmware Cisco introduced adding a new Dashboard to the WLCs. One of the interesting points in a new Web UI dashboard is the best practice section:
Selecting a + will expand the description of the best practice:
Clicking on Learn More we can go to dedicated help page with explanation of all available best practices seen in the dashboard:
The other well known best practice webpage is Cisco Wireless LAN Controller (WLC) Configuration Best Practices.
Extreme Networks – Wireless WING:
The best practice document for WING5 – link.
The document is well structured and more than 80% of TAC cases might be fixed with implementation of best practices into production networks. I really like the content, starting with design scenarios with MINT protocol for campus and distributed sites – the most important aspect of stability of the system.
Next the document explains wireless, radio, mobility, captive portal and specific features’ recommendations. There are included examples from the CLI for the configuration of the specific feature.
Example: L2TPv3 tunnel to the wireless controller in DMZ
Aruba has a slightly different approach related to best practice. The recommendations are included into VRDs (Validated Reference Guides), training materials from the courses and best practices’ documents. That approach may guarantee the most important recommendations are very close to the design aspect of the system or a feature.
Example from Aruba Instant VRD:
There is recommendation that IAP cluster may consists of 128 APs (marketing), but two sentences after the vendor mentions that 110 APs is the real number (engineering). This means that you may install APs in number 110-128 APs, but in case of problems you may have been asked to divide into two clusters as a final resolution.
Example from the training material for ACMAv8:
NOTE: Most profiles have a default profile. It is highly recommended to never change a default profile. It is better to create a new profile. By changing a default profile you may change other AP-groups using the very same default profile.
Another example from AirWave Best Practices 8.2.7:
CWNP – vendor-neutral certification program
CWNP is a vendor-neutral WLAN certification program for an enterprise Wi-Fi networks. It covers all aspects of the lifecycle of a wireless network and the material for every certification, like CWNA, CWSP, CWAP, CWSP, is evaluated by bunch of people with experience from almost every enterprise Wi-Fi vendor. Those best practices are universal, which means that an individual may very quickly adapt to the new vendor in design, implementation and troubleshooting.
Wireless installations are bigger and bigger every year and the trend will grow as Wi-Fi is the preferred connectivity to the network or Internet nowadays. Wise wireless network engineer will read and implement best practices, therefore the system is better optimized for higher performance, than with default settings.