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Wireless LANs have become the new edge of the organizational network, providing access for virtually all users, applications and mobile devices. And IT managers have consequently been making huge gains in WLAN for 802.11n. But in the age of post-recession budgets, total cost of ownership (TCO) and WLAN go hand in hand.
TCO covers two key elements, capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx). CapEx covers one-time expenses, installation, planning and licensing as well as planned upgrades. OpEx covers troubleshooting, help desk and system management. CapEx is manufacturing and technology intensive, while OpEx is labor intensive. Costs usually rise over time, unless personnel costs are reined in.
In wireless controllers, we are seeing increasing integration and consolidated functionality in branch settings, as wireless controllers encompass routers and switches. Today, there are even options for cloud-based wireless controllers, wherein management and controller functions are hosted in the cloud. These management systems can be purchased or leased, eliminating CapEx entirely in the case of the latter.
OpEx will increasingly substitute for CapEx. OpEx-centric answers can create a battle over priorities, scale and management. At the center of this new IT struggle are architecture and analytics. By maximizing staff productivity and selecting the most cost-effective options among wireless controllers, organizations can seek to overcome and resolve the complexities of modern WLAN and the expenses that it can incur.
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