A number of wireless and mobility trends are poised to have great impact on the networking industry this year. Last year, we saw the tremendous growth of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own App (BYOA) in enterprises and organizations of all sizes, as well as the emergence – and rapid traction – of 802.11ac. These, along with the following new trends, will continue to influence the market as the calendar turns to 2014:
802.11ac (Gigabit Wi-Fi) Gains Momentum: The new IEEE 802.11ac standard will continue its notable rate of growth, especially as the 2013 holiday season brings a rush of new 802.11ac-capable devices to end users eager to put them to use, and as enterprises turn to 802.11ac to deliver a better experience for bandwidth-intensive applications such as video. For newer 802.11ac-capable devices like the Macbook Air and Samsung Galaxy Note, 802.11ac drastically increases performance by delivering 1.3 Gigabits per second (Gbps). Additionally, for 802.11n and older devices, the new standard can also significantly boost speeds. A further advantage of 802.11ac is that it is the last big capacity increase for Wi-Fi that can still work with existing gigabit Ethernet networks. Wi-Fi will eventually move beyond gigabit speeds, and when it does it will require a more extensive network upgrade to support 10 gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) backhaul for each wireless access point (AP).
Cloud Wi-Fi Comes of Age: Managing Wi-Fi connectivity across many distributed locations can become a management nightmare for many enterprises. Having a simplified and centralized way to provision and manage many Wi-Fi locations can deliver cost and efficiency improvements for organizations and change the way they connect distributed office and retail locations. In 2013, Cloud-managed Wi-Fi networks required some tough tradeoffs like consumer-grade reliability and performance. In 2014, Cloud Wi-Fi will take off as the technology matures, delivering the kind of enterprise-class features and performance inherent in traditional WLAN management. In 2014, we’ll see built-in intelligence amp up Cloud-managed Wi-Fi APs to deliver the same capabilities as controller-managed APs. We’ll see cloud Wi-Fi that stays always on by adding fast failover, redundant uplinks and cellular backup links to the WLAN, plus global redundancy for the Cloud management service itself. We’ll also see more flexible architectures as cloud Wi-Fi allows access points to run in multiple modes and locations, managed by a single solution. IT will no longer have to stitch together solutions or settle for a non-ideal architecture.