Companies are increasingly looking to mobile working to boost productivity while driving business process improvements through continuous access to information. But while wireless technologies can deliver significant returns on investment, they open up new challenges for IT professionals.
Here are five important considerations to bear in mind as you build your wireless infrastructure:
Be aware of emerging standards for internal wireless networks
The 802.11n standard has not yet been ratified by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, but this should not deter companies from adopting the technology. Most of the vendors supplying infrastructure compatible with the draft version of the 802.11n standard offer dual-radio designs. These products, while capable of supporting both radios in 802.11n mode, can also use one of the radios to transmit and receive data to and from legacy 802.11b and 802.11g clients. But beware, many voice devices will continue to support only 802.11g, as 802.11n power requirements and antenna design are difficult to deploy in smaller devices such as phones and PDAs.
Secure access is vital
To navigate across these diverse networks, users will require secure access network resources that reside in the firewall. Increasingly, businesses are turning to Secure Sockets Layer virtual private network (VPN) solutions, as they are easily deployed and offer a great degree of flexibility across multiple platforms, unlike their internet protocol security predecessors. True mobility, however, comes in the form of mobile-access VPNs, which enable secure connections to firewalled resources but also offer added capabilities – they can manage connections across disparate networks and preserve sessions at the application layer.
Expect devices to continue increasing in complexity
Businesses will continue to see an influx of devices with Wi-Fi capabilities, and an increasing number of these will be taking advantage of internal and external Wi-Fi networks for voice and data access. Consider the internal impact of this additional traffic on the WLAN. The increased traffic, combined with an associated need to deploy more wireless infrastructure, could offset the cost saved by reducing the use of cellular minutes. Furthermore, when deciding on an access solution, it is essential to create a clear policy stating what data will be accessible from mobile devices owned by users.
Consider how WiMax can benefit your company
WiMax is not a Wi-Fi killer, but an extender. Future company infrastructure will likely include hybrid wireless cards that have the ability to connect to WiMax and WLAN networks. Some hybrid infrastructure devices are already available to serve both local and wide-area wireless connectivity requirements through a single device.
Establish a mobile operations role
Many organisations adopt wireless connectivity in an ad hoc way without ever really taking into account the business tools that will work best with the devices deployed. Mobile Operations is a new IT competency that Forrester Research sees taking shape in many organisations today that covers everything from network design, mobile device specifications, security and access policies and mobile application development.
Mobility has gone mainstream, but doing it seamlessly requires investment in multiple technologies, including internal wireless infrastructure, external wireless services, and in personnel with the expertise to manage and build policies around the use of mobile tools.