Whenever network security is mentioned, most people feel fear, nervousness, guilt, ignorance, and only very occasionally, confidence. Their worries can often mean opportunity and profit for the channel.
When it comes to wireless local area networks (wireless Lans) the industry has spent all year discussing their flawed protection and the way this presents a serious barrier to adoption.
This has given resellers a huge opportunity to act as consultants and advise end-users on the solutions available. But should the channel still be concerned with selling security, or should it look at other issues as potential revenue streams?
The wireless Lan market has changed significantly in 2002. The technology has proved itself and adoption has been exponential.
Market growth shows no signs of letting up. Goldman Sachs, for example, recently predicted the wireless Lan will be among the seven technologies taking the bulk of IT spending in 2003.
Security improvements have also developed rapidly. Encryption has been improved on some products, wireless gateways have entered the market, and security awareness has improved. End-users now know about the basic measures that can prevent unwanted access to their networks.
The wireless Lan opportunity for the channel will involve standards, mobility and management. 802.11b is the predominant standard in the UK and Europe, while 802.11a, which rules in the US and has some advantages over 802.11b, has recently been ratified by the radio communications industry.
802.11g, which seems a good compromise between the two, should be approved this year. With customers facing variety and confusion over interoperability, the channel is ideally placed to advise them.
As enterprises start to deploy multiple networks, they are moving from worrying about security to wondering how wireless integrates with fixed networks and maintains connections between subnets.
Many observers believe that management is the crucial piece of the wireless Lan jigsaw. For example, access points provide no ability to stop a user who is closest to the access point from 'hogging' all of the available bandwidth.
The channel has a vital role in watching new product developments and acting as consultant to its clients.
This is where the margins lie. Security is a closed case.
Martin Cassidy is general manager EMEA at Bluesocket.
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