Most wireless networks in the enterprise were deployed as secondary networks. The thought was that users would primarily be using the wired network from either their desktop or notebook. But as new classes of mobile computing devices such as the Apple iPad start to access the wireless network, IT organizations are starting to discover that the wireless network is rapidly becoming the primary network that most users want to access.
Unfortunately, a lot of the wireless network controllers and access points that were deployed as secondary networks were never intended to support hundreds of simultaneous users, many of whom as part of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon now want to connect multiple devices to the network at the same time.
Besides trying to figure out how to effectively support all those users, IT organizations are also struggling with how to prioritize access to one application over another. Obviously, users trying to access an enterprise application should be given priority over people accessing a website such as ESPN.com, but a lot of the wireless networks that have been deployed have rudimentary policy-based management capabilities at best.
To address that specific issue, Aruba Networks today unveiled the Aruba 7200 Series, which the company says is the only wireless LAN platform with the integrated application intelligence and controls that allow IT organizations to prioritize who gets access to what application and when. Based on Aruba AppRF technology, Keyur Shah, senior manager of competitive marketing for Aruba Networks, says what distinguishes Aruba from rivals are technologies such as AppRF that give organizations more granular control over wireless networks that over time will continue to add more access points.
In addition, Shah says that rather than being religious about where the intelligence to manage that network resides, Aruba gives customers the option of deploying controller intelligence centrally in, for example, the cloud or at the edge in the access point.
The ability to prioritize application access is hardly a new concept, so it only makes sense to apply it on a wireless network. The issue that many internal IT organizations are now wrestling with is largely a perception problem. No matter how good they are at managing the rest of IT, if the end-user experience on the wireless network is suboptimal, there is an assumption that the IT department as a whole is incompetent. If for no other reason than improving the regard employees have for the internal IT department, organizations need to upgrade their wireless networks in an era where that network is rapidly becoming the primary network that employees use every day.
It may be difficult to ascribe a hard return on investment on making that upgrade to the wireless network. But in a world where perception is reality, a lot of IT organizations are going to find that making that upgrade, like the MasterCard commercial says, is nothing short of priceless.