Meta: Wireless not yet the recommended answer

Despite all the talk of networks going wireless in 2003, it will be some time before the enterprise enjoys the promise of ubiquitous IP (Internet protocol) connectivity, according to Meta Group Inc. senior research analyst Bjarne Munch.

Munch, who specializes in networking and wireless, said although there has been a significant amount of hesitation adopting the nascent technology, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“With new lower-cost wireless technology coming onto the market, we will see a lot of positioning next year but there won’t be a boom in 2004,” Munch said. “The wireless space needs to viewed as a whole. Wireless LANs have mainly taken off in SMEs while the larger enterprises have been waiting to see how the security standards, which are still undergoing ‘vendor battling’, evolve.”

Munch predicts wireless within the enterprise should take off towards the end of 2004. “Wireless security can be implemented properly but there is a significant amount of integration required,” he said. “This means increased costs and more time spent with deployment which contribute to the reluctance.”

From the business case stance for replacing wired networks with wireless, Munch said it’s not recommended.

“It will be some time before the required bandwidth is supported by wireless networks,” he said. “The organizations that can find a business case, such as those in hospitality, have already started migrating.”

The real issue with wireless is which technology is going to become pervasive, Munch said. “Some companies require a fully ubiquitous national network so expect to see positioning in 2004 when carriers will test the market,” he said.

IDC Australia’s senior mobile and wireless analyst, Warren Chaisatien, said wireless and mobility is already widespread but more than 90 per cent of companies have no overall wireless data strategy.

“CIOs understand the qualitative benefits of wireless but can have difficulty quantifying the benefits,” Chaisatien said. “To help, look at wireless with a focus on business strategy.”

Chaisatien said wireless technology is good enough to mobilize business applications but the issues of coverage, high price points, and a highly fragmented set of standards need to be resolved.

IDC research indicates that at least 10 per cent of SMEs and about 30 per cent of enterprises already operate a wireless LAN. This is predicted to rise to about 25 and 50 per cent respectively in 2004.

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