Network Design Decisions: Access Point Placement in VLANs


Considering the VLAN configuration provided, which includes management, main LAN, internal WiFi, guest WiFi, and plant operations, would it be more appropriate to position the wireless access points within the management VLAN or the internal WiFi VLAN? Additionally, if the management VLAN is preferred, does it still make sense to maintain a distinct VLAN for internal WiFi, aside from the obvious necessity to segregate the guest WiFi?


The management VLAN is typically reserved for network management devices and is used to separate management traffic from user data traffic. Placing APs in the management VLAN can enhance security by isolating the management interfaces from the user-facing networks. This segregation ensures that only authorized personnel can access the AP management features, reducing the risk of unauthorized configuration changes or breaches.

Internal WiFi VLAN:

The internal WiFi VLAN is designed for the organization’s internal wireless traffic. It separates internal wireless users from other network segments, which can be beneficial for applying specific security policies and access controls tailored to wireless users.

Placement Considerations:

  • Security:

    If security is a paramount concern, especially regarding the management of APs, placing them in the management VLAN is advisable. This approach aligns with the principle of least privilege, restricting access to critical management functions.

  • Performance:

    For performance considerations, if the internal WiFi VLAN has been optimized for wireless traffic, with appropriate quality of service (QoS) and bandwidth allocation, placing APs here might be beneficial.

  • Scalability:

    The decision may also be influenced by the scalability of the network. If the network is expected to grow, placing APs in the management VLAN could simplify future expansions and configurations.

  • Maintaining a Separate WiFi VLAN:

    Even if APs are placed in the management VLAN, maintaining a separate internal WiFi VLAN can still be justified. This separation allows for:

  • Differentiated Policies:

    Applying different security policies and access controls for wired and wireless users.

  • Traffic Segmentation:

    Keeping user data traffic separate from management traffic, which can aid in troubleshooting and monitoring.

  • Network Optimization:

    Tailoring the network performance settings for wireless traffic, which may have different requirements than wired traffic.

  • In conclusion, while placing APs in the management VLAN can offer enhanced security for AP management, maintaining a separate internal WiFi VLAN is beneficial for applying specific policies, segmenting traffic, and optimizing the network for wireless users. The final decision should be based on a thorough assessment of the organization’s security posture, performance needs, and future scalability plans. The guest WiFi should, of course, remain segregated to ensure that guests can only access the internet without reaching internal resources.

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