Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SonicPoint Access Points losing Connections...Part 1

Part 1:
Over the past few weeks I have started having some serious issues in my sonicpoint deployment. Last budget cycle we purchased six sonicwall sonicpoint G's for central management and high quality wireless that will also provide good security at the same time. Since we recently deployed a sonicwall Pro 3060 for our main peremiter security I figured it was a no-brainer to get sonicpoints that could easily be managed from the sonicwall appliance.

Unfortunately the SSID beacons started dropping like crazy and it seemed that even a simple reset and reboot of the devices wouldn't even bring them back up. Basically it would take several hours of constant rebooting and removing the device from the console administrator and then re syncing them to get them back online.

So I did a little research and came to a couple of interesting thoughts. It seems that a lot of major universities have been having issues with wireless access points and firewalls coming to a complete halt because of the number of IPhone users that were hitting the access points. A few articles pointed to the IPhone wireless devices being at fault. But no one really seemed to have a concrete fix. So I turned to the awesome church IT community and talked with my friends about my issues. Some seem so irritated with sonicpoints all together that they were about to sell them on eBay. Others had excellent success with them and talked about how rock solid there wireless networks were even in a full congregation using it as well as in a full house conference.

So was I having a vendor issue... or is it another underlying issue that deserves another look? After all when I first went to sonicwall appliances it seemed harder than Cisco device configs... but it wasn't the devices.. its just a new technology that needs another look.

Which brings me to another interesting thought. Maybe it really isn't the IPhone or the sonicwallw? It could be just the number of users that are concurrently connected at the same time. As well as channel issues. After more brain storming this evening I'm almost confident that it is channel oriented.

In an environment where you have numerous wireless access points that all have the same SSIDs they tend to overlap much like an FM radio station does when you are between two stations. Example when your between two FM stations and you hear both channels trying to break through at the same time. This is the same type of situation you have when your using RF devices like wireless access points.

Another issue is other Access Points in your environment and even access points at neighboring businesses. Those access points may have the same channels.

Possible solution? This week I am going to try and bring all of the Channels down and try the following:

Adjust the minimum data rate at which the SonicPoint will send data to clients. Setting a minimum data rate of 24mbps, for example, will cause clients with an 11mbps connection to be ignored.
Adjust the beacon intervals for my SSID's. This can help speed up handoffs between access points when users are mobile and when clients are initially connecting.

According to SonicWall selecting AutoChannel will usually provide adequate performance for most situations, a deployment with many access points in close proximity to each other might warrant manual channel selection. Channels 1, 6, and 11 are the non-overlapping channels in the 2.4GHz range, and should be used for access points in close quarters. Manual channel selection adds a bit more complexity in subinterface and provisioning because I will need to carefully plan out and provision three distinct SonicPoint groups, one for each channel. --ick

So i'll focus on these ideas and report back with my conclutions :)

Windows Updates and Service Pack 3

A few weeks ago I had a strange issue that started happening once I installed Service Pack 3. Once Service Pack 3 was installed it seemed that updates would no longer install no matter what I did. I even tried to turn off automatic updates and then turn it back on again. That seemed to fix similar issues in the past but not this time.

After a little research on Microsoft's technet I found out that there has been an issue related to enterprise versions XP Professional. (volume license versions of XP)
Seems as though several dll's get un-registered during the SP3 install.

To fix the issue just re-register the following dlls by opening up a command prompt and entering the following commands one by one.

regsvr32 /s wuapi.dll
regsvr32 /s wuaueng1.dll
regsvr32 /s wuaueng.dll
regsvr32 /s wucltui.dll
regsvr32 /s wups2.dll
regsvr32 /s wups.dll
regsvr32 /s wuweb.dll

Do a quick reboot for safe measure now and re-run windows/microsoft updates.

Hope this helps any other frustrated users out there trying to get windows updates to install :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

being me...

I recently read on LifeChurch.tv's blog "But if you stop trying to be just like others, you can be as great as God created you to be!". It really got me thinking in what I deal with on the IT level. We can go out and get the latest and greatest tool that Willow Creek or maybe even LifeChurch has. But is that the same tool intended for our church?

Too often I've tried to use the latest and greatest because "it just worked" or because it was the "trendy" thing to do. "After all it worked great for them!" Being in IT that's the way we stay up with the competition and the 'know how' in the corporate world. In the ministry world it's important in this day and age to be just as good as the marketing that the world around us throws at us in our day to day life. Shouldn't we direct LIFE to all people in a lost world and have a 'product' that's just as good and honestly... better?

One thing differs though when you enter the ministry realm. God's plan. Just because Church A and B does it this way doesn't mean that God's plan for your church's IT is the same... Or any other ministry for that matter... In fact I hope it isn't. Whenever I stick to what was laid on my heart, nine out of ten times it ends up exceeding my expectation and working out great. Whenever I lean a different way it usually back fires in my face. Think God's trying to tell me something in those times?

What a great reminder that God has called us all individually! What God called the Jason Powell's to do and the Steve Ollis's and others to do may not necessarily be what He has called me to do. Sometimes we forget that HE is God and He's the one that does it all through us anyways! If we get so wrapped up in what the church next door is doing chances are we're probably going to miss out on what God's wanting to do right now in our own church home.

Long story short Thanks Craig for the encouraging and up lifting words through your blog.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Time Warner Fiber

We've switched from ATT's T1 to a 5/5 Fiber link and I couldn't be happier. We've been up on the new pipe for about three months and and we've already had an upgrade to the line. I recently received an email that services would be down for "router and line upgrades". No wonder the day before the actual down time the latency kept spiking. I came in the next day and we had 10 up and 10 down. I wonder if that was an accident?... i'm not telling :)

With the ISP rollover between the providers I had the chance to put the new Sonicwall appliance up. I can't say it was a smooth one. With some help from our buddy Justin Moore we came to a couple of conclusions. Thanks Justin!

1) Don't ever setup a sonicwall appliance using the wizard and expect reliability and things to work right. Do it the "right way" - manually.

2) Don't always trust that the IP notation your ISP gives you is correct :)

Blog worthy story there so i'll write a separate post in regards to the sonicwall fun.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Blogging... Again

I already know what the first thing is going to be when most of you see this post...
"I didn't even know he still had a blog"

Exactly: That's what I had thought too!

But seriously blogging is a great tool, and if for no one else's benefit it helps me take a look at my adventurous journey in the IT world as well as my daily spiritual one.

I've decided to break down all of the projects that I've been working on in to separate postings that I hope to get out in the very near future...

1) SFLC Network
a. TW Fiber
b. SonicWall
c. HP Pro Curves

2) Video Security
a. Axis Servers and Cameras.

stay tuned :)