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Network technology trends for 2012: Wireless LAN and BYOD

Craig Mathias of Farpoint Group shares his predictions for the wireless LAN industry in 2012, as BYOD forces enterprises to rethink their management approaches.

What will happen in the networking industry in 2012? sat down with five leading industry analysts to learn their predictions for networking technology trends for 2012. Craig Mathias, principal analyst with Farpoint Group shared his view on what will happen in the enterprise wireless LAN space next year.

2012 will be a year of evolution -- not revolution -- for the wireless LAN space, according to Mathias. Enterprises will continue their migration to 802.11n next year, and the promise of gigabit Wi-Fi is still years away. In 2011, consumer devices such as smartphones and iPads invaded the corporate wireless LAN as they made the leap from luxury items to essential collaboration tools. This trend will accelerate into 2012, Mathias said. As the mobility revolution continues, the rise of these devices will leverage productivity and lower costs in the workplace. Mathias believes that mobile device management -- specifically, understanding what these tools are being used for -- should be the focus in the coming year.

While 2012 is not expected to be the year to solve security and mobility management issues, big work needs to be done in these areas, said Mathias.  Network managers will focus on the security, integrity, provisioning and monitoring of handsets, tablets and PCs on wireless LANs.  Security concerns will continue to challenge network managers who are dealing with bring your own device (BYOD) policies in 2012. Mathias said that many firms still do not have the proper security policies in place for BYOD devices.   

With Ethernet jacks at the desk becoming a thing of the past, wireless LAN deployments in enterprises will expand in. Wireless LAN infrastructure will become the primary access layer of many campus networks, and the growing ability of wireless LAN vendors to support rich media services like video conferencing will break down many barriers against broader Wi-Fi adoption. And with 802.11n penetrating the residential market as well, users will be able to run these kinds of applications from home. “Why go to the office anymore?” asked Mathias.

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