Security challenges aside, wireless LAN management remains an issue. "The whole network-management space still needs a lot of work," Farpoint's Mathias says.
Insufficiently managed networks can result in increased security risks, higher operational costs and dissatisfied users. Computer Associates (Islandia, N.Y.), Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, Calif.) and IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) all promise network-management tools that can be used on wired and wireless networks, which should make it easier to manage both, according to Forrester analyst Ellen Daley.
For the IT help desk, wireless networks can be difficult to troubleshoot. If users have a problem connecting, they'll often move to another area covered by a different access point, impeding the help desk's ability to determine the problem, Capital One's Bailar says. And there are inexplicable occurrences with wireless networks - in one instance, the Capital One help desk discovered interference with one of its access points but couldn't determine from where it was coming. It was learned later that a user had introduced a device into the wireless LAN environment that wasn't owned or approved for use by Capital One, and the device was utilizing the same spectrum as the network.
Despite these challenges, the momentum for wireless is continuing to gain speed. Wireless LANs will evolve to support more emerging applications, such as Voice over Wi-Fi, which Capital One envisions giving its mobile workers even more flexibility down the road.
Ultimately, employees will demand a wireless workplace. New hires are coming from college campuses with Wi-Fi everywhere. Everyone already can get Internet access on planes and have wireless access served up with mocha lattes at Starbucks. Fewer businesses will be able to offer wireless access only to employees away from the office, and many more will have to provide it to employees on home turf, too.
Courtesy of InformationWeek, a CMP Media property.