February 27, 2014
If there ever was a phrase at risk for marketing overuse, it would be “next generation.” But in terms of the mobile enterprise, it’s worth talking about what the next generation is all about. It’s not just hardware, and it’s not just software. Next-generation wireless and mobility amounts to culture and a mindset, and means something a bit different for each of us.
Not so long ago, any wireless evolution dubbed “next gen” mostly started and ended with new wireless access points and faster data rates. Everything upstream from the access point was fairly static, and much slower to evolve. Client devices got refreshed with faster radios, but authentication and encryption mechanisms crawled forward and a WLAN stayed mostly an accessory to the LAN for a lot of years. But those days are gone, and now next-generation enterprise mobility means much more, giving companies a wide range of choices.
In simplest terms, any comprehensive mobility strategy will involve Wi-Fi, mobile devices, role-based access, and will reflect the growing importance of ubiquitous connectivity. At the infrastructure level, next-gen wireless can be a single-vendor technology or a combination of different services from different vendors. It may have cloud elements, extensions of carrier networks, location and analytics services, and global reach. The options are many, reaching deeper into the corners of our business operations, regardless of what business we’re in.
Today’s WLAN systems might be cloud-managed with only access points to install, or could be controller-based with a rack full of management servers of various types riding shotgun. 802.11ac is the hot story right now, but even here the nuance of Wave 1 versus Wave 2 creates a need to weigh your options.
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