The Case for an Untethered Enterprise
Published 2008, Posted August 2008
In the beginning, there were wires. The traditional wired local area network included a separate voice and data wire for each user, and lots of switches all over the place.
Next came wireless LANs, along with the wireless networking technology known as Wi-Fi. Initially, WLANs were comprised of “thick,” individually managed access points, providing limited coverage areas within the enterprise.
Then came WLAN switches, which simplified network management by enabling centralized control. This lowered the total cost of ownership and increased the security of the WLAN, increasing the popularity of Wi-Fi among corporate enterprises.
Today, most enterprises are running two separate networks – one wired, and one wireless. Most enterprises have treated Wi-Fi as an ancillary tool, meant to complement, but not replace, a company’s wired Ethernet network.
However, several new technological advancements and trends are encouraging IT administrators to rethink their network strategies. In this respect, Wi-Fi has grown up a lot in the past decade.
Once a luxury reserved for curious corporate executives and engineering labs, Wi-Fi is now an invaluable tool for any modern office whose employees use notebooks or handheld computers. Wi-Fi unshackles employees from their desktop computers, whether they are attending a meeting down the hall or visiting the company’s manufacturing floor. The majority of PCs and handheld computers now come equipped with a Wi-Fi connection.
Meanwhile, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is set to ratify a highly-anticipated Wi-Fi standard called 802.11n, which promises data speeds that rival and often surpass wired network connections. The advent of 802.11n is a milestone in the evolution of the Wireless Enterprise.
Furthermore, wireless technology has evolved to include mesh networking. In a wireless mesh, the network dynamically routes packets from access point to access point. A few nodes have to be 1 connected directly to an Ethernet port, but the rest share a connection with one another over the air. This negates the seemingly contradictory need to distribute wires for a wireless network.
The time has come for IT administrators to consider deploying office networks that run entirely on Wi-Fi technology.
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