As the management of the overall IT environment gets a little more complex thanks to the rise of mobile computing and the "consumerization" of IT, the management of wireless networks is getting a little trickier.
There are more types of mobile computing devices than ever, thanks to rise of the "bring your own device" (BYOD) phenomenon. But what many organizations don't appreciate, says Sylvia Hooks, senior manager of mobility marketing for Cisco, is that the quality of the antennas on mobile computing devices can vary greatly. In particular, many consumer-grade devices have a tough time competing for access against devices with a higher-quality antenna.
In recognition of that issue, today at a Cisco Live! event in London, Cisco launched the Cisco Aironet 3600 Series Access Point. Cisco says it is not only the first access point to provide four antennas to increase the number of devices that can access a wireless network at any given time, but it also supports the emerging 802.11r and 802.11u standards that make it easier for users to move seamlessly between access points and for the network to advertise specific services to a mobile computing device, respectively.
In addition, the new Cisco access point supports version 2.0 of ClickLink, which enhances the quality of the wireless connection between a mobile computing device and the Cisco wireless network.
With roughly 7.1 billion mobile computing devices expected to be in the hands of end users by 2015, Hooks says it's clear that the quality of the mobile computing experience is going to be directly tied to the robustness of the wireless network that provides it. Obviously, there is a lot of competition to provide those wireless networks. But as wireless networks continue to become a standard part of the enterprise network, Hooks says Cisco expects customers to evaluate vendors on their ability to provide an end-to-end network that can be managed via a single management interface. As such, Hooks says no other vendor has been able to match Cisco's breadth of networking offerings.
There's no doubt that wireless networks are increasingly becoming the way end users interact with corporate applications regardless of the device they use. In addition, many of them are roaming around the building or campus, moving back and forth between devices multiple times a day, or even using them in concert with one another at the same time. The challenge that presents for IT organizations is not insignificant. But as time goes on, the IT organization is going to increasingly find that it's the quality of that mobile computing experience that they will ultimately be measured on in the eyes of the average end user.