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5 Steps To A Better Wireless LAN

How to keep up with reliability, security and the overwhelming performance demands on your wireless network.

InformationWeek Green -  Mar. 21, 2013 InformationWeek Green
Download the InformationWeek April special issue on mainframes, distributed in an all-digital format (registration required).

Even with advances in technology that let IT squeeze every bit of throughput from available spectrum, many wireless LANs are barely keeping up with demands for reliability, security and performance. And the pressure isn't about to let up: "Our district recently appropriated nearly $1 million to upgrade the wireless infrastructure to support our 1,600 employees and 12,000 students," says the CIO of a K-12 school district. "We have had over 13,000 unique registrations on our wireless system since September. That number seems to grow by about 100 devices per day."

Businesses are seeing a similar surge in wireless demand. Our recent InformationWeek 4G and the Future of Mobility Survey shows strong adoption of smartphones and tablets, along with plans by 80% to off-load traffic from cellular to Wi-Fi and small-cell networks, a.k.a. picocells. Yet our InformationWeek 2013 Wireless LAN Survey of 419 business technology professionals suggests many aren't facing the reality of a future workforce that views mobility as a commodity. When asked how, over the next five years, they see WLANs evolving as an end user access method, 58% of respondents say wireless and wired networks will live side by side in fairly constant proportions -- that's actually up from 55% in September 2010.

But guess what? Copper is out. Radio waves and inductive charging are in. And replacing cables with ether for business use means replicating the performance, reliability and security of Cat6 Ethernet, an unrealistic goal until recently. Mature 802.11n and the advent of second- and third-generation gear and security schemes have largely made good on the reliability and security requirements, and the 802.11ac standard should essentially close the performance gap for all but the most demanding scenarios.

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Our report on InformationWeek's 2013 Wireless LAN Survey is free with registration

This 35-page report includes action-oriented analysis, packed with 34 charts. What you'll find:
  • More technologies like the superfast 802.11ac standard, that are driving the wireless movement
  • Features that make WLANs more secure and predictable
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Then there's the cloud and mobile commerce, services that ramp up WLAN capacity demands and reliability expectations.

Our InformationWeek 2013 State of Cloud Computing Survey of 446 business technology professionals at organizations with 50 or more employees shows 80% are using, planning for or considering cloud services. Likewise, 78% of 4G and the Future of Mobility Survey respondents say mobile access to cloud providers will have an impact on enterprise IT services over the next three years. It's time to face the fact that100% of your employees use cloud. We guarantee it. Maybe it's Dropbox, Google Docs or some software-as-a-service application purchased on the sly by a business unit, but employees and your customers want access to these services from a variety of devices.

Mobile commerce is on the horizon as well, and it's going to have an economic impact, as we discuss in our "Mobile Commerce" report. Whether the effect is positive or negative for your company depends on how you prepare.

To read the rest of the article,
download the InformationWeek April special issue on mainframes.

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