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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

July - 2009 - issue > Technology

Trends in Enterprise Wireless Space

Anurag Goel
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Anurag Goel
Moving beyond the clichés, the term ‘Enterprise Wireless Space’ begs for some kind of a definition. Here we find that even the venerable Wikipedia, powered by thousands of brilliant minds working tirelessly to try and provide digested information on everything from A to Z on the Web, turns away the eager searcher empty handed. Even a search on Google is of no help. Well, that is not surprising considering that when you google ‘Google’, you are presented with a list of component arms that comprise Google. In the same spirit, let us define: “Enterprise Wireless Space is a collection of technology components comprising of: a/b/g/n WiFi, Access Points, Client Devices, LAN Controllers, Network Management, Mobility Services, VoIP, Security, Wide Area Wireless Networks, Location and Context Aware Solutions, and so on.”

The definition presented above is illustrative of the chaos observed by the hapless enterprise manager who approaches the event horizon of the black hole that comprises the technologies defining the Enterprise Wireless Space, looking for a solution for that thorny enterprise problem eating away tens of thousands of non-productive labor hours. But the intrepid ‘integration’ engineer that dives right into the space wonders, “Chaos? What chaos? I don’t see any chaos!” Of course the engineer only sees the round hole but the enterprise manager from afar might see the square peg of an enterprise problem he is carrying. At other times, the engineer may have previously sized up the problem before he dived into the technology space and may invent a customized solution that actually works well.

But despair not, for all is not lost. While some technology development continues on its own trajectory and gets thrown over the wall as a one-size-fits-all solution, some technologies are created to allay specific enterprise pain points. An example of this is Class I RFID technology that was created specifically for item tagging. If the implementation cost had allowed sufficient ROI, this technology would have worked brilliantly as a replacement for barcodes. But when the ROI equation did not work and other problems such as asset tracking and inventory control were thrown at RFID technology, things fell miserably apart. The ROI was not forthcoming and the technology was not ready for a lot of different applications – it turned out to be a case of square peg in a round hole.

Similarly, Bluetooth comes to mind – but it has proven to be a good Consumer Wireless solution, though not an Enterprise Wireless solution (unless you consider the Bluetooth computer mouse to be an enterprise productivity tool). Zigbee could be considered as an Enterprise Wireless Solution in some cases, but that technology was designed from the ground up to serve the consumer space. It remains to be seen if this technology will serve certain niches in the Enterprise Wireless Space and meet the constraints of power requirements and scalability demanded by some applications.

WiFi is an excellent example that has met many needs in the Enterprise. This technology works very well for applications requiring high data rates and that can bear relatively expensive client devices that don’t need to run on batteries beyond a few hours. WiFi SIPs are beginning to make their way into the market place for low duty cycle applications, but it remains to be seen if they will meet the cost and power requirements of many applications. Multi-band Wireless Mesh for outdoor deployment is another technology that holds promise for applications requiring monitoring or tracking of widely distributed assets. Enterprises such as electric and water utility companies are beginning to deploy these metropolitan scale networks for real time monitoring as well as for substantial energy and labor savings.

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