The simple fact of the matter is that most wireless networks in the enterprise are deployed with a "hot spot" mentality. That means a conference room is pretty well covered, but wireless access across the rest of the building or campus is spotty at best. If employees are now going to be roaming around the building using tablet PCs and smartphones, the wireless networking coverage is going to have to be a lot more pervasive to support that.
What will become apparent to all in 2011 is that wireless network bandwidth is a limited resource, and, like every other limited resource, it will have to be proactively managed.
Aruba Networks CTO Keerti Melkote says that in 2011 we'll see the rise of intelligent wireless networks that proactively manage bandwidth. That means that the networks will be able to detect what types of devices are on the network and the level of concentration around particular access points.
Melkote says that suppliers of 802.11n wireless networks will be proactively working with carriers to manage the hand off between 802.11n wireless networks and the 4G cellular networks.
In the latter half of 2011, we will also see a new generation of intelligent mobile computing devices that will not only be able to automatically detect what is the most efficient network available, they will also dynamically adjust to the type of content that is being accessed over that network. That capability, said Melkote, is going to be especially critical as multimedia applications on wireless networks continue to gain more momentum.
There's obviously less glory in the proactive approach, and it's a lot easier to get funding for something that end users are clamoring for. But then again, the quality of wireless networks is one of those technologies that end users use to judge the entire IT department. So if your job security is tied to keeping end users happy, then you should probably start building out the wireless network today.