With an increasing number of employees bringing wireless devices to work, some network managers dream of an all-wireless network at the enterprise edge.
However, a wireless expert at Hewlett-Packard Canada says that’s not coming soon.
“Not this year,” Stephane Laroche, senior wireless architect for HP’s networking division told reporters in Montreal this week.
Organizations have to be prudent about getting rid of wired networks, he said. “You’re not going to get rid of Ethernet networks,” he said. “You still need to bring your wireless data somewhere.”
There’s no reason to make room-sized telepresence suites wireless, he added, and for security reasons some business applications might always have to be run on a wired network.
Still, organizations should look at their infrastructure and see where getting rid of a wired connection makes sense, he said.
“At some point in the future you may be all wireless,” he said. But “before we get there the technology has to mature.”
Some organizations think the impending release of the next generation of Wi-Fi, which double throughput to bring gigabit speeds to wireless, is the key.
However, Laroche said finalization of the standard, (formally known by the IEEE as 802.11ac), isn’t expected until next year. Some makers of access points for consumers will release 802.11ac devices using a draft standard this year, but HP won’t because enterprise buyers want a stable product. He also said HP won't release an access point that hasn't been certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Besides, he added, the corporate demand for gigabit wireless isn’t here yet. HP believes the current generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11n, which offers download speeds under ideal conditions of around 400 Megabits per second, will be around for several more years.
Even after gigabit wireless takes off, network managers won’t totally embrace Wi-FI, he predicts, because a technology is that uses unlicenced spectrum is inherently unstable. “You have to accept some downtime” in a Wi-Fi network, he said.
Laroche’s outlook on wireless was part of a tour he led for technology reporters through HP’s Montreal wireless lab, a legacy of its 2008 purchase of wireless access point maker Colubris Networks, which was based in that city.