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Can your WLAN keep up with the tablet explosion?

Research firm Canalys reports that the enterprise wireless LAN market has grown by 35% due to the influx of wireless-only devices in the workplace. I could report this as good news – and it is for the top five WLAN vendors: Cisco, Meru, Motorola, HP and Aruba. But for network managers the numbers should signal a different message: You’d better shake a leg if you don’t already have a mobility plan in place that entails growing your WLAN to handle the tablet and smart phone storm.

If your mobility plan is centered around halting or even limiting the influx of personal devices on your network, think again. Bring-your-own-device programs are imminent. What’s more, if you believe that the WLAN is a secondary network, built basically to provide Internet access in common spaces, it’s time to rethink your wireless strategy.

The same Canalys report points out that pad shipments will grow to over 113 million in 2015 from 45 million units in 2011, and smart phone shipments will increase to 864 million from 455 million units in the same period. Once these wireless-only devices flood the enterprise, the WLAN will either handle them – or completely melt down.

Building a mobility program goes further than finding the right mobile device management tool. It is just as important to build a secured WLAN with the capacity to handle bandwidth-hungry applications such as video and VoIP. As Jared Griffith, CTO of systems integrator Cinergy explains: “It’s about protecting mission-critical applications. That comes down to good old-fashioned wireless LAN engineering. When I build this network, I have to build it based on the applications that are going to be on the network, not for coverage. If you build a network for coverage and then I add 50 devices to it, it slows the network down, if not crashing it completely.”

What’s your plan?

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