All-wireless enterprise networks

All-wireless enterprise networks have been a thing of conjecture in the past, but they are now becoming more than possible for many curious enterprises. But making the leap from wired to wireless is a big one, and requires a lot of planning.

In this video, senior site editor Rivka Little and Rohit Mehra, IDC's director of enterprise communications infrastructure, sit down to discuss the all-wireless enterprise network. Mehra discusses what the all-wireless enterprise network would look like, and why there has been resistance in the past. Mehra also tackles the topic of wireless gigabit.

Read the full text transcript from this video below. Please note the full transcript is for reference only and may include limited inaccuracies. To suggest a transcript correction, contact [email protected].   

All-wireless enterprise networks

Rivka Little: Hello. I am Rivka Little site editor for Search Networking,
and I am here with Rohit Mira, Lead Analyst at IDC for
Enterprise Networking. Thanks for joining us.

Rohit Mira: Hello, Rivka. Thank you for having me here.

Rivka Little: Tell me, what does the all-wireless enterprise look like?

Rohit Mira: The all wireless enterprise is a very interesting term being
used nowadays, generally what I have seen people allude to is
talking about pieces of your network being made up of wireless
as the connectivity medium, as opposed to Ethernet. In the good
old days there used to be other things as well, but
really, Ethernet switching as the connectivity mediums, with
that, if you start using WiFi as your primary medium, that is
what most folks are calling the all-wireless enterprise.

I think I should add though, when we talk about an all wireless
enterprise, generally the connotation is of wireless speed and
the edge of the network, which is where user and devices will
get connectivity back into the wired network, which by the way,
still happens to be resilient and reliable in providing all the
scalability that you typically need. I know we will be talking
more about the performance and so on, but I thought right up
front to give you a quick overview, from my side, as to where
wireless and wired fit together.

Rivka Little: I guess we will skip forward to that a little bit. In other
words, there is no chance of there actually being a wireless
backhaul at this point?

Rohit Mira: Well, it depends on the applications. There are certain wireless
backhaul applications in deployment today, depending on
what we are talking about. For the typical enterprise, the carpeted
office, which is large Fortune 1000 companies with thousands of
employees and distributed over many, many locations, typically,
the wireless backhaul doesn’t quite make sense. You are
talking about wireless at the edge, providing connectivity for
users like you and me in an enterprise, or could be for
applications that are very specific to that organization or that
application. In a hospital you might have infusion pumps or
radiographic monitors using WiFi to get that traffic back onto
the wired network.

There are other segments, if you will, or markets like oil
drilling, oil exploration, mining, large manufacturing campuses
which are spread over many, many miles. Over there, wireless
backhaul does make sense, so you are not just using wireless for
connectivity for the user, but you are also using wireless to
take traffic all the way back to your central data center, or some central repository from where all your IT your operations are being controlled. Does that
make sense?

Rivka Little: Absolutely. How does Gigabit Wireless LAN play into that, or
how will play into all of that?

Rohit Mira: Great question. Gigabit Wireless is not yet real. We are
talking about Gigabit Wireless in the future, because what is
being deployed today are WiFi standards based on what we call
802.11n. That is certainly broadband wireless, theoretically,
providing up to 600 megabits per second, which is still pretty
good performance, given just a few years ago we were looking at around 30 to
40 megabits per second. Given that, we have really moved almost
10 times performance.

Besides performance and scalability, what 802.11n has brought
into enterprise level wireless deployments is the improved
coverage, improved reliability, and so on, and there are a
couple of other benefits; there is a pretty long list of
benefits that the enterprise have gotten from this standard.
What will happen when it comes to the next generation, some
people are calling this WiGate gate, basically, as it was it
will be a new standard that we use additional 20 megahertz
channels, currently with 11n, basically, using 20 and 40
megahertz channels. With this new standard you are likely to use
additional spectrum to provide you with multi-gigabit
capabilities on wireless networks. I think it will be a quantum
jump in performance.

Do we really quite need it today? One could argue both ways. I
think with 11n, right now, given push for multimedia within the
enterprise, I think 11n quite justifies, again, it is always a
cost/benefit in terms of evaluation and exercise.
Certainly, in this case for today, 11n is meeting the enterprise
requirement even for multimedia applications pretty well. Over
time, I think, the human beings that we are, our demands for
YouTube and video conferencing are not going away, I am talking
HD conferencing and so on. As the demand for multimedia from a
consumer standpoint, but more so from an enterprise standpoint,
continues to increase and as these video applications are used
by the enterprise more and more, not just YouTube video for home
or recreational purposes.

I think there is a place for Gigabit over WiFi, or Gigabit
Wireless, as you call it, but I think that is still some time
away. It is probably going to come as the standard evolves,
hopefully it will not be so many years in the making as 11n was;
it was several years in the making. I think it is going to be
a shorter time to market, but there is going to be a cost being
paid to provide the average enterprise, whether it is an
upgrade, or it is a from-the-ground-up deployment. I think, overall, there will be benefits from a Gigabit Wireless standpoint, but for the foreseeable, future I
think n has some lags, and over the next few years enterprises
are going to be deploying 11n in pretty large numbers, actually.
IDC's forecast, for this year alone, in the enterprise is about
$2.1 billion, the total market being about $5 billion for
wireless. I think the enterprise is going to grow pretty
rapidly, on an average, with growth rates about 13% or14% a
year, which is pretty significant.

Rivka Little: Thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate taking
this time.

Rohit Mira: OK. Thank you, Rivka, for having me.

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