Managing and troubleshooting WLAN can be a headache, and supporting an influx of extra devices, such as smartphones or tablets, only adds to this challenge.
Sales of such devices are outpacing sales of static devices that depend on fixed-line connections. And employees often expect and demand to be able to use these devices whether the device was provided by the company or bought by the user.
The question is not whether to allow employees to bring their own devices to work but how to support and integrate these devices with existing networks. Outright bans on the use of personal devices in business are simply no longer feasible, especially if the devices have been optimised for both entertainment and corporate use.
Their role in the workplace only looks set to grow.
However, many of these smart devices cannot plug directly into the traditional wired network, so the burden of support falls to the WLAN.
Over the next few years, we'll see many more Wi-Fi-only smart devices come onto the market. Business executives are likely to own an average of three Wi-Fi-enabled devices each by the end of this year.
So it is an issue that companies cannot afford to ignore.
Unfortunately, Wi-Fi has been a nice extra rather than a business necessity for many organisations, and many networks have been designed only to provide additional connectivity in meeting or conference rooms.
Many of these are not up to the task of supporting the growing number of wireless devices, let alone the sophisticated applications being used.
The process of integrating, managing and troubleshooting all these extra devices is seen by many as a cumbersome task. However, solutions exist that offer features of high-end WLAN but are easier to deploy and manage, and are more affordable.
Wi-Fi now enables employees to use their devices in a range of settings. And in the long run, it can save money as it is much more cost-effective to equip an office with Wi-Fi than it is to maintain and extend a wired network.
This is especially true when you consider that wireless connections are becoming the norm.
Bryan Hall is UK and Ireland sales manager at Ruckus Wireless
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