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Moving WLAN connectivity beyond mobility to enable true worker productivity

Ryan Goh, Vice President & General Manager, Zebra Technologies APAC | July 14, 2015
Zebra Technologies’ Ryan Goh shares more about what businesses should consider when choosing a WLAN partner, and how can then can choose a WLAN provider that will ensure greater productivity for their workers.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

According to the Enterprise WLAN Market report by MarketsAndMarkets, the enterprise Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) is expected to more than double from US$5,120 million in 2014 to US$12,101 million by 2019. Asia Pacific, in particular, is expected to be a high growth market, demonstrating the need for reliable WLAN connectivity for enterprises in all industries.

WLAN is the backbone that delivers true mobility and, ultimately, worker productivity. The million-dollar question though is if WLAN really drives productivity. Initial WLAN investments were designed to accommodate growing mobility requirements, allowing workers to access the network and critical data applications on corporate devices or their own, from inside your four walls or out. While that is still largely the goal today, the wireless landscape has changed dramatically.

Ensuring the network can accommodate increasing wireless access and still deliver reliable coverage and performance requires right designing, planning and selection of technology and solutions. As the number of corporate and guest users and wireless applications grow, so do the security, reliability and capacity challenges. How you configure your network is key to the performance of all network devices.

The gains in the consumer WLAN space benefitted from the ongoing transition from the older 802.11n standard to the newer and faster 802.11ac standard as well as a solid performance in emerging markets, particularly in Asia/Pacific where China, as the second largest consumer WLAN market (behind the United States), jumped 36.9% year over year in revenue and a massive 81.3% in unit shipments. The Asia/Pacific enterprise WLAN market grew more modestly at 10.5% year over year due to weakness in Korea (down -15.8% year over year) and Indonesia (-29.3%). Still, other major Asia/Pacific countries performed well in 2Q14 with China growing 13.6%, Japan adding 16.2%, and Australia increasing by 12.5% year over year in 2Q14.

Current 802.11 ac WLAN solutions provide higher throughput and faster, better coverage — even for legacy devices, but fair warning: they are not all created equal and what you don't know could hurt the very productivity you are trying to enable. 

WLANs are not created equal

Organizations that operate both industrial and non-industrial facilities have quickly learned that their wireless needs are not the same. Especially those who attempt to use enterprise- and consumer-grade technology from the predictable carpeted space to support their complex, fast-paced, challenging industrial environments. You don't simply need a WLAN; you need the right WLAN.

Planning and implementation are no longer as simple as asking how many square feet you have, the type of materials used in constructing your building and calculating how many access points you'll need. Today you need to know much more. How many users will be on the network? How many and what kinds of devices will they be using? Which applications will your network have to support today and in the future? How will the equipment, assets and materials that move within and throughout multiple operating environments affect your network? How would you plan and predict the changing needs of the environment based on new users, devices and applications that you plan to onboard in the foreseeable future? One thing you can be certain of is that with the growth of browser-based network access, mobile devices of all kinds and cloud-based applications will drive more traffic over the network.

 

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