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LAN becoming 'wireless by default'

Enterprises struggling with building robust-enough Wi-Fi networks, Gartner says

LAN becoming 'wireless by default'
Gartner sees modern enterprises connecting 90% of devices via wireless, with only 10% relying on wired connectivity

Wireless LAN is becoming the default way to connect to enterprise networks as organisations grapple with the proliferation of smart devices and portable PCs, according to Neil Rickard, research vice president at Gartner.

Speaking to ITP.net, Rickard said that enterprises may indeed be sporting reasonable Wi-Fi networks, but they are finding that these networks aren't robust enough to support the explosion in smart devices within the workplace.

"People might have Wi-Fi, but it's intended for 10% of their users, and it's not terribly robust," he said.

"But what enterprises need is a very robust, very scalable Wi-Fi solution that can accommodate every user bringing three, four, or five devices to work, and can accommodate the fact that almost all devices are Wi-Fi-connected to the LAN."

Indeed, Rickard said that Gartner is seeing a shift from wireless-by-exception to wireless-by-default in many enterprises. He quantified this as suggesting that, previously, only 10% of devices would be connected to the enterprise LAN via Wi-Fi. In contrast, he said that he wouldn't be surprised to see modern enterprises connecting 90% of devices via wireless, with only 10% relying on wired connectivity.

"It's the growth of Wi-Fi, of bring your own device, device numbers proliferating, the move to wireless by default, wired by exception. We used to have it the other way around," he said.

Rickard's comments resonate with some of the key messaging around Aruba Networks' latest wireless products. The vendor advises customers that a new generation of mobile workers are now entering the workforce.

Earlier in the year, the vendor published a study that found that 70% of IT professionals are under increasing pressure to support an all-wireless workplace.

Aruba said that the pressure is coming both from top executives and what it calls Gen Mobile employees - workers with demands for mobility and wireless. These workers want greater flexibility and better collaboration, Aruba said.

The study, done in conjuction with another taken by The Future Laboratory, suggested that companies are now required to create all-wireless workplaces. The agility of such networks, Aruba said, would help with employee retention, productivity and cost savings. Despite this, the study noted that only 14% of employees enjoy such a workplace.

However, the numbers suggested that interest was turning - 51% of organisations saw a rise in mobility and remote working last year, the study said.

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