Readers of this blog know that I’m quick to extol the virtues of 802.11n as a means to un-wire client devices and allow users to roam free. The technology has the potential to provide these users a parity of experience on wireless with the wired networks they may leave behind while leaving them unencumbered to explore new modes of work. Enterprises are making the move to more flexible work environments seriously, take Cisco’s Workplace Of The Future, for example.
Though I’ve heard, off the record, that some at Cisco find it more disruptive than positive — an initial impression that fades, for some — the fact remains that mobility is a top priority for most enterprise IT managers. So, what of the 64% of enterprises that cite they see providing more mobility support to employees as a priority or critical priority? (see Figure below.) Well, while they’re gravitating toward using Wi-Fi networks, adopting mobile devices, I think that it’s premature to talk about a rush to 802.11n as the baseline specification of the unwired network.
Depite the widely-acknowledged nascence of 802.11n, many have been abuzz about this week about the results of a BT-sponsored study, featured in Network World and other publications calling 802.11n a "game changer." While it’s true that there is great interest in the .11n technology, at the enterprise level we’re nowhere near a majority of implementations being based on 802.11n. More like 10% currently deploying all 802.11n networks, according to the same Forrester data that shows such aggressive interest in supporting mobility. (See Figure below)
Interestingly, the BT resuts state:
"The Web-based survey was completed by IT professionals from 226 companies. Forty-three percent of those companies had 1,000 or less IT employees…"
Given Forrester’s definition of enterprises, companies of over 1,000 employees, we’re in fact looking at results from SMBs in the BT data. Their penchant for 802.11n is actually not news at all. So, let’s all take a step back here and keep in mind that we’re still in the early days of 802.11n and, while it will likely replace much of the 802.11a,b and g infrastructure we see in place today — and will be a driving force in more mobility within organizations – companies that have not yet made a leap to the technology are actually the majority.
What are your plans for 802.11n?
By Chris Silva
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