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October 23, 2012

Infonetics Research Finds Enterprises Planning Major Wireless LAN Upgrades

We all know about the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon and the IT headaches to accommodate the presence and desirability of putting those smartphones and tablets “to work” are causing. However, we tend not to hear as much about the enterprise infrastructure necessary to allow those devices to operate wirelessly, efficiently and effectively when on corporate premises.

Infonetics Research has released some highlights from its latest survey of IT asset managers on the subject, Wireless LAN Deployment Strategies: North American Enterprise Survey, which details the access network plans of medium-sized to large companies, and their plans for delivering wireless connectivity in the workplace to new classes of devices.

No end in sight

As might be expected, based on the continued wave of personal devices entering the workplace, current wireless LAN infrastructures at most enterprises need to be upgraded to expand coverage in general, increase capacity in hot spots, and up the speeds and feeds. 

It turns out enterprises are spending to do just that. 

Author Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst for enterprise networks and video at Infonetics Research, notes that, “There is no end in sight to this trend: almost all new devices on the network are wireless, and many organizations expect their tablet usage to surge in the coming years. In order to effectively support mobile devices, user mobility, and BYOD (bring your own device), a robust wireless infrastructure is no longer a nice to have, but a must have.”

Key findings in the 33-page study of 105 medium-sized and large businesses in the U.S. and Canada about their wireless infrastructure plans for the next two years, found: 

  • Respondents plan to increase wireless coverage and capacity to accommodate the additional Wi-Fi generated traffic with wireless access points growing by 15 percent  by 2014.
  • More than 1/2 of the companies surveyed allow employees to bring their own devices into the enterprise, increasing to almost 2/3 by 2014.

  • Tablets are a chief driver of the BYOD phenomenon
  • Cisco was named as the top WLAN vendor by 61 percent of survey respondents
  • Interest in next-gen access points is strong, respondents plan major upgrades to 802.11n, and are already eyeing 802.11ac APs, despite a lack of exact availability and pricing.

The study looked into such factors as the number of network-connected devices installed; Ethernet switch ports, WLAN controllers, and WLAN access points deployed now and in the future; WLAN technologies used (802.11a/b/g, 802.11n, 802.11ac); drivers of access network traffic growth; WLAN and LAN equipment vendors; and expenditures.  In short, they examined the entire wireless LAN infrastructure.

I reproduced the chart on the number of respondents that currently are BYOD friendly versus the projection to 2014 because it is telling. As those of you who follow my writings on the subject are aware, I’ve been saying for some time that we live in a new era/chapter of the Internet Era which I have called, “The Age of Acceleration.” If you think about where enterprises were only two years ago in terms of their indifference, or even hostility toward accommodating personal device use in the workplace, it is amazing how fast and how far we have already come. 

What Infonetics points out is how far we are about to go and in a very short period of time. 

Turns out, the need for speed in all aspects of business optimization and creating competitive advantage has strong evidence underlying its criticality. IT asset managers have gotten the message. And while this may in no small measure be a result of C-levels running more and more of their businesses from tablets, the word has clearly gone out that everyone needs to be onboard and assuring the wireless LAN infrastructure is up to the task is appropriately a priority.

Edited by Braden Becker

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