Why IT managers worldwide are embracing the era of cloud-delivered wireless LAN

By: Aditi Rehan

In this time of unprecedented network connectivity and availability, it’s critical for businesses to understand what their customers really want. What do your customers want? Regardless of the industry, consumers generally want access to products and services that are relevant, consumable and affordable.

Sounds easy enough. But is it? To deliver on those needs, organizations must first address information availability, infrastructure readiness and secure data exchange. Suddenly, it’s not quite as simple as knowing what customers want and giving it to them – there’s also the matter of how. It’s your network that will help you deliver on your understanding of customer needs.

The way forward is wireless

With the explosion of end-user devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones), organizations strive to differentiate their products and operations and avoid getting lost in the noise. Effective and efficient data transport through the network with seamless application accessibility has also become critical to meeting customer expectations.

Although many businesses still use traditional local-area network (LAN) environments in branch and campus locations, the increasing reliability, security and speed of wireless technology (for example, 802.11Ax protocol can scale up to 1 Gbps) make it possible to transform LAN environments.

Why go from wired to wireless?

Wired networks come with significant costs — including physical space, cabling, switching, maintenance and procurement — and require specialized skills to manually configure them.

Additionally, wired networks generally don’t have a redundancy failover and can be thwarted by wires that are loose, aging or have been tampered with. The architecture of wired networks becomes obsolete as users acquire more advanced devices than the network can support. The result is a slow, costly and cumbersome process to refresh/deploy new sites, requiring dedicated teams of engineers, architects and project managers to manually visit and set up each site.

The challenges that come with wired networks have led to the emergence of software-defined LAN (SD-LAN). This is a cloud-based, wireless LAN solution that separates the data plane from the control plane and hosts data over a secure cloud. Advanced analytics monitor and manage the LAN environment through a centralized control plane. SD-LAN can also incorporate automation, centralized policy deployment, simplification and agility to drive faster deployment and problem resolution, simplify scalability and support end-to-end network visibility.

Software-defined networking in action

Moving from a wired network to a wireless one may seem daunting, but the benefits of applying software-defined technology to LAN can be seen all over the world:

  • Smarter cities: Increased outdoor access points by municipalities have significantly improved the level of safety and security of citywide residents in the event of crisis.
  • Smarter transportation: The availability of Wi-Fi in public transport allows for commuter connectivity and access to live schedules. The resulting increase in customer satisfaction has encouraged more people to use public transport, which helps minimize road congestion and pollution levels.
  • Smarter logistics and transportation: Real-time product tracking and vehicle location are vital in the transportation and logistics industry. Implementing Wi-Fi to assist in defining safer and simpler routes on the devices installed in vehicles has helped minimize wait time.
  • Smarter restaurants: Restaurants that provide free Wi-Fi to customers consistently see an increase in traffic, customer satisfaction and spending while in the restaurant.
  • Smarter education: Implementing cloud-managed Wi-Fi services encourages digital classrooms, libraries and outdoor areas for students, teachers and researchers. The resulting flexibility and scalability have broadened the reach to potential students, provided better connectivity and enhanced the overall learning experience.

About The Author

Aditi Rehan

Offering Manager - Global Network Services

Aditi is a thought leader, industry consultant and sales & business development professional with over 15 years of cross-industry experience working with global clients. She puts her passion for transforming client environments to good use as the Global Offering Manager for the IBM software-defined LAN offering.