The Keys to WLAN Adoption
As enterprises seek to reap the benefits of mobility, 64 percent of businesses intend to increase wireless local area network (WLAN) deployment during the next 12 months, according to a new survey by Gartner.
In October and November 2005, Gartner asked 200 networking and business technology organizations in North America and Europe about their views on WLAN technology. Forty-four percent of respondents said the primary reason to deploy a WLAN was improving productivity with mobility. Twenty-one percent said the primary reason was to provide access to places not possible with wire, and 13 percent of respondents thought wireless networks were a less expensive or simpler way to deploy LAN connectivity.
"Although wireless LANs are not a new endeavor, interest in them is still growing," says Rachna Ahlawat, research director for networking and communications equipment at Gartner. "Wireless LANs are becoming a standard part of enterprise networks, covering entire facilities, not just meeting rooms."
Prohibiting this growth, however, is security, which 95 percent of respondents cited as being among their top five concerns. Sixty percent of businesses surveyed said they do not believe they have adequate security for their wireless environment. The second biggest concern is the management of WLANs. Gartner found that this was more important for businesses that had already deployed networks than for those about to do so or still at the planning stage.
"As wireless networks have expanded from the conference rooms to the whole network, concerns about security and network management are rising," Ahlawat says. "We've gone from thinking of offices as network nodes to considering each employee as a node on a wired network. Now every major physical item the company owns is becoming a node on a wireless network."
Network management is one of the keys to WLAN, according to Ahlawat. She says it's critical for companies to realize that WLANs are more than just a simple means of connectivity. They must be managed and customized if enterprises are to exploit their full potential, such as wireless access to software applications like CRM. Proper network management also beefs up security. "Newer applications, such as location tracking of equipment or personnel are only possible through the wireless medium," Ahlawat says.
Ahlawat adds that the hardware and software required to manage wireless networks is as important as the connectivity itself, and must not be ignored "Vendors should note that as organizations expand their wireless networks, overlay applications become much more attractive and they should ensure they support such applications."
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