Wi-Fi has emerged as the primary network in enterprise environments in 2013, as businesses increasingly adopt smartphones and tablets, as well as roll out their Bring-Your-Own-Device initiatives. These developments, together with new innovative technologies coming to market, have resulted in a rapidly increasing demand for enterprise Wi-Fi. Here are some of Ruckus Wireless’ view on the changing landscape for 2014 and how these trends will impact the enterprise.
Enterprise Adopts 802.11ac
802.11ac is all the rage, because it represents another fundamental change in the innovation of the 802.11 protocol that promises to boost speeds into the gigabit world. In 2014, 802.11ac Access Point (AP) adoption will increase, mainly driven by more 802.11ac-enabled devices, and as vendors release lower cost 2×2 802.11ac APs. An optimized 802.11ac infrastructure will depend on solid wireless fundamentals, thoughtful radio design, smart antenna systems, and dynamic RF adaptation.
Hotspot 2.0 Turns Wi-Fi into a Profit Centre
Throughout 2013, Hotspot 2.0 has been developed and promoted predominately by carriers and equipment suppliers. In 2014 we expect it to gain traction in the Enterprise, as another means to provide Wi-Fi access, and turn the WLAN into a profit centre. Since operators want the Wi-Fi network access, the real opportunity will emerge for any enterprise or venue owner to wholesale their existing wireless LAN capacity to operators; charging them recurring fees for that access. Enterprise WLANs involve large capital and operational expenses and Hotspot 2.0 offers enterprises the chance to gain a return on the investment and to secure an on-going revenue stream.
Cloud solutions for SMEs
With limited budget and a lack of IT support, deploying a robust wireless LAN has always been a challenge for SMEs. Up to now, SMEs have had two choices with little in between: high-end, costly and complex enterprise WLAN systems or affordable but featureless consumer-grade Wi-Fi. In 2014, Cloud solutions for Wi-Fi management and services will continue to provide ‘out of reach’ enterprise technology for the average SME. While it will continue to offer a good plug-and-play deployment model for remote sites and remote employees, it won’t be cost-effective enough for most SMEs.
Wi-Fi based location analytics
Location-based services technologies have received a lot of attention in the enterprise world in 2013 driven by the fact that many people now have multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops. The full spectrum of businesses, from retail, hospitality and even healthcare are now in the process of developing a new range of location-based service models. In 2014, Wi-Fi based location analytics will play a bigger role for organisations to help them increase business intelligence, define security policy, and improve customer/user Wi-Fi experience. Expect Wi-Fi to provide much more than Internet access. As the trend matures, users will begin looking for site/venue-specific apps when they arrive at the venue.
Wi-Fi Gets Social
Social media applications, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, have increasingly permeated almost every interaction we make online in our everyday lives. More services, applications and subscriptions are either encouraging or, in some cases, requiring you to sign up using your social media identity. In 2014, we will see this extend to Wi-Fi and become pervasive among organisations providing guest access, allowing users to log-in to the network using their social credentials.
As Wi-Fi technologies continue to mature in the areas of analytics and BYOD. Analytics will become more important specifically to correlate the myriad data points from clients (locations, apps, device type, trending, etc.). We’ll also see a continuation of adoption and integration of BYOD solutions and device management.
Salah Nassar, Senior Manager, Enterprise Product Marketing, Ruckus Wireless