WLANs are Hot, But Security is Hotter

By ISP-Planet Staff

November 21, 2002

META Group expects the WLAN market to grow at a compound rate of 30 percent annually. But according to a recent In-Stat/MDR, companies are fairly evenly split between those that allow remote access to the corporate LAN and those that do not.

Stamford, Conn.-based research firm META Group, Inc. recently completed a study of the enterprise wireless local area network (WLAN) market. Based on its findings, META Group expects the WLAN market to grow at a compound rate of 30 percent annually. The study evaluates vendors that focus on providing comprehensive wireless solutions based on the IEEE 802.11 standard to enterprise customers.

Chris Kozup, META Group senior research analyst, said he expects to see the WLAN market diverge into three distinct segments.

"We expect a clear distinction among products that will emerge in the next 12-18 months to meet the specific needs of the enterprise, consumer, and public market segments," Kozup said. "Vendors seeking success in all markets must strike an effective balance between the richness of features required by enterprises and the low cost needed for consumer and public deployments."

WLAN products targeting the enterprise market must include advanced features for robust security, management and reliability. According to META Group, to be players in this market, WLAN vendors must not only demonstrate a clear commitment to advanced features beyond Wi-Fi systems, but also control the manufacturing of at least one part of the entire solution, such as access points or client adapters.

The report, titled Enterprise Wireless LANs METAspectrum, evaluates the top five vendors in this market. Numerous WLAN vendors did not meet the criteria of this studytypically lacking either the advanced features required for enterprise deployments or a focus on enabling mobile applications. Key findings include:

  • Vendor success depends on a mixture of performance and market presence.
  • The market has transitioned from emerging status to full growth, with core WLAN technology quickly becoming commoditized.
  • Advance features and services required by enterprise customers remain largely proprietary and can vary greatly among manufacturers.
  • Selecting a strategic partner for WLAN initiatives is critical, due to proprietary features such as security, which can make customers wary of jumping from one vendor to another.
  • Best-practice organizations are proactively developing wireless LAN policies, in response to grassroots demand for adoption of the technology and to mitigate risk of rogue wireless networks.

By 2004, META Group expects market presence to increase in importance relative to performance, as the technology matures and users place greater value on market penetration and vendor viability.

Security is relative

Meanwhile, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based research firm In-Stat/MDR reports that remote access to corporate LANs continued to be hindered by security concernsbe they wired or wireless. But security is not hindering demand for remote access among the working wired.

With the advancement of Internet use in the workplace, the proliferation of laptops and the emergence of wireless access, the definition of the workforce has expanded to include remote work environments. On average, companies are fairly evenly split between those that allow remote access to the corporate LAN and those that do not, with larger companies more likely to allow remote access compared to smaller ones. The principal reasons stated for not allowing any remote access, whether from home or public locations, were lack of need and security concerns.

Amy Cravens, In-Stat/MDR analyst, said security fears are limited to remote access options.

"As is evident in the low adoption rates for public access, providers in this space have several challenges that they must address in order to develop the market," Cravens said. "The biggest challenge is to appease security concerns among corporations as well as develop a broader base of individual subscribers to demonstrate demand for this type of access."

While the public access market, until this point, has largely been supported by individual pay-per-use access, the corporate relationship is critical in this marketit is a more efficient method to gain high usage levels for fewer marketing dollars and it is a more stable relationship than even individual subscriptionsand consequently catering to business concerns should be top priority for these providers.

Key findings of In-Stat/MDR's report, titled Managing a Mobile Workforce: Broadband Access Policies for Remote Workers, include:

  • Security is a major concern with 38.1 percent of those that do not allow remote access.
  • Among those select few companies that allow public broadband access, hotels are the most popular venues. Airports were the next most popular location.

The report provides detailed information, gathered in an independent In-Stat/MDR primary research survey, on the expectations and inclinations of IT administrators in regards to broadband remote access services. Subjects discussed include present and future implementations, and home corporate LANs allow business travelers to access networks via remote broadband access.

Reprinted from ISP-Planet.



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