In the first part of this series on enterprise WLAN, we discussed steps for planning a WLAN infrastructure upgrade. In part two, we explore the benefits
of WLAN as a primary access technology.
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The benefits of WLAN infrastructure can apply to any vertical market, but the benefit of deploying it as the primary access network varies by industry. The added mobility and security functionalities for bring your own device (BYOD) and consumer-oriented devices are ideal for enterprises that have large numbers of knowledge workers. This includes most verticals, but mobile security for health care, finance and education are representative of the type of industries that have the most to gain from using a business WLAN as their primary access technology. More generally, enterprises with extensive mobility strategies and projects are likely to reap the benefits of WLAN. On the other hand, a manufacturing company that operates mostly factories rather than offices may not benefit much from investing in a WLAN infrastructure.
The benefits of WLAN as a primary approach to connectivity include the following:
- Ubiquitous access. Wireless supports both stationary and growing mobile workforces, as
well as mobile devices and the new generation of apps they bring in.
- Cost reduction. Instead of running two networks in parallel, companies with sufficient
WLAN infrastructure can install, maintain and operate just one. This benefit is most obvious in new
locations -- which don't need to be wired for end-user access at all -- as well as in locations
with an old wiring plant where the cost of updating it would be highest.
- Highly scalable network architecture. Decentralized architectures -- which put the intelligence for all features in each access point (AP) and sometimes can be managed via Software as a Service (SaaS) -- scale easily. Each AP adds the same capability and capacity to the network automatically, without diminishing returns or additive configuration burdens.
More from Philip Clarke
Read the rest of his tips on evaluating enterprise WLAN considerations
- App and performance optimization. Through technologies such as Quality
of Service (QoS), routing, flow
control, band-steering and even software-defined antennae shaping, enterprises can improve app
and general network performance starting at the business WLAN access point in ways their wired
networks can't yet match.
- OpEx-based costs. Many vendors offer SaaS-centric solutions, where the hardware and
software become operating expenses rather than capital purchases. These solutions are often an
easier "sell" to management than those involving large up-front capital investments.
- Secure device management. WLAN network access control (NAC) allows enterprises to automatically identify and manage all devices, including guest and BYOD mobile devices, via a consistent policy framework, and in a more robust way than they currently use (or are able to use, in many cases) on their wired networks.
Note: The research cited in this series is from Nemertes Research's 2012/13 Communications and Computing Research Benchmark, conducted through conversations with benchmark participants from IT organizations between January 2012 and April 2012.
About the author
Philip Clarke is a research analyst at Nemertes Research, where he is a co-leader of the Wireless and Mobility research track, advises clients on wireless topics, writes key trends and thought leadership reports, conducts statistical analysis, and develops research reports.
Read the third part of this series where we discuss creating a WLAN architecture for a mobile workforce.
This was first published in December 2012