September 28, 2005

Microsoft Provides an Example

Among the leaders in deploying wireless LANs, Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) offers an example for financial services firms considering establishing a wireless workplace. The company is replacing a global wireless LAN infrastructure with an even larger one that will encompass 277 buildings worldwide and cover more than 17 million square feet, a project expected to take up to two years to complete. Microsoft is deploying 5,000 "thin" wireless access points from Aruba Wireless Networks (Sunnyvale, Calif.) that can be managed centrally and will provide connectivity to an estimated 100,000 computing devices. It's one of the largest, if not the largest, wireless LAN deployments in the world, according to Craig Mathias, an analyst with wireless consulting firm Farpoint Group (Ashland, Mass.).

Microsoft has been using Cisco Systems (San Jose, Calif.) equipment, which requires device management at each access point. Growing demand for centralized tools to manage wireless LANs prompted Cisco to offer a thin-access-point setup through its recent acquisition of Airespace (San Jose, Calif.). Other wireless LAN vendors, including Extreme Networks (Santa Clara, Calif.) and Trapeze Networks (Pleasanton, Calif.), offer their own approaches to central management, which makes it easier to expand networks and can reduce costs because less equipment is needed, Mathias says.

Though Capital One, citing security concerns, won't discuss its network-management approach or reveal its wireless vendors, Future of Work already is providing benefits. Since the deployment, Capital One's buildings accommodate more people. For example, its West Creek campus near Richmond, Va., used to house 650 employees. With Future of Work, the number of people working there jumped to 1,100, simply by reconfiguring the office space.