Make Your Network Ready for the WiFi RevolutionPrint
These five components of a technology strategy can create and continuously optimize an enterprise-strength WiFi network.
2. Plan and manage from the start with a flexible technology road map.
With WiFi, as with all mobile technologies, the environment of devices, networks, vendors and standards is changing at breakneck speed. That means the WiFi capability should be designed from the start to accommodate change and enable ready migration.
Other changes are in store as new standards attempt to deal with congestion—and as technology innovations proliferate. So it’s important that CIOs plan for those changes and prepare for the probability of migrating from one type of service to another.
3. Protect the business through more comprehensive security capabilities.
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, whereby network access to personal devices is granted in an enterprise, comes with a host of implications for network control and security. Organizations need to know who is on the network and why, enforce access policies, and then maintain compliance and audit requirements.
As tablets and smartphones proliferate in enterprises, applications downloaded by employees (often running in the background) can access the data on the phone and report back to IT.
Solutions are already in place—or are being devised—to cope with security risks. More- effective security capabilities, integrated with the WiFi network, provide automated identification, onboarding and policy enforcement with provisioning to personal devices, while enabling device-level security. With apps that run on employee devices, security personnel can provide centralized control over how a device can be used, what services or applications can be run, and what resources can be accessed by that device and user.
4. Work closely with telecommunications service providers.
Enterprise CIOs should work closely with carriers to tightly integrate WiFi capabilities, because users increasingly expect seamless transition of service from cellular to WiFi. Of course, such cooperation with providers happens naturally with enterprises that are in the business of selling WiFi access to customers (those who, for example, run stadiums or convention centers). However, CIOs in just about any business should bear in mind the importance of WiFi offloading to major mobile carriers.
5. Consider alternate sourcing to manage complexity.
As WiFi solutions grow in terms of both importance and complexity, many CIOs are considering working with an external provider to help manage the technological and organizational changes required. WiFi managed services options are likely to become more appealing to enterprises to achieve flexible and iterative enterprise application development. A managed service also ensures that enterprises will have ongoing access to the latest skills and technologies needed to run and maintain the WiFi environment.
As WiFi moves from the office to factory floors, hospitals, stadiums and coal mines, so does the need for designing the network differently. New tools and skills are needed to manage and run these complex and ever-changing wireless networks.
WiFi enablement has now become so critical to business operations—and to enabling better collaboration and mobile working—that it is fast becoming an integral part of any CIO’s agenda.
Shahid Ahmed is a senior executive with Accenture and is the Americas practice lead for the Accenture and Cisco Business Group.
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