When a new technology is launched, the demise of the technology it supersedes is often predicted. When TV and then video became everyday additions to the British household, pundits were too hasty to pronounce the end of the radio age and-many years on-are still made to eat their words. Today, IT industry commentators are sensitive about making such predictions in the wake of the wireless networking revolution. Certainly one of the biggest reseller opportunities of this decade, wired networks are unlikely to disappear overnight.
With an established and fast growing market in place, the time is ripe for wireless technology to stand up and be counted. Companies require more flexible networking architectures without compromising security, nor losing the ability to transmit large amounts of data among large user groups. A highly knowledgeable reseller that can comprehensively allay any customers concerns over security, reliability and performance will be in a position to do well. Information is as valuable a commodity as cash, and we are seeing a idescale movement across all industry sectors for organisations of all sizes to become more mobile, and make information as highly available as possible.
Riding the wave
Today, wireless local area networking (WLAN) is increasing in popularity amongst both business and home users. A viable technology in all manner of environments, WLAN is a common fixture in airport lounges, logistics warehouses, school campuses as well as plain old office blocks. Driven by low prices for the most basic systems, home WLAN kits have flown off the shelves, with many homes and SoHo's getting in on the act.
With the increasing demands being placed on enterprise IT managers, the disruption of cabling and re-cabling premises-particularly in Grade-listed buildings where even a lick of paint will land you in trouble-has become a chore many now opt to do without. The inherent ease of user management (particularly in terms of "adds and changes", etc.) achieved through WLAN deployment is a welcome benefit, freeing up time to allow them to concentrate on more strategic development tasks.
The typical user experience of WLAN is extremely positive. "Wow, that's incredibly cool and easy to use" is a fair summary of most people's reaction to the sheer novelty of wireless. With Intel's Centrino technology powering the lion's share of new laptops, wireless has become almost unavoidable. Sitting on a park bench somewhere, the laptop's in-built wireless sensors will likely ask you whether you'd like to connect to networks you never knew were even there.
Complexity on the increase
As a reseller offering wireless solutions, it is important to realise that the complexity of evolving products will only increase. The alphabet soup that passes for global WLAN standards (802.11a/b/g/g+) has steadily offered incrementally better data speeds and distance range. We are already seeing devices that can offer bandwidth of up to 108 Mbps, with the future set to offer greater security and data speeds over increasing distances. Then theres WiMAX, a radical breakthrough that could see ranges of up to 30 miles at speeds of 70 Mbps achievable-putting it on a par with 3G.
A compelling application for WLAN is the ability for organisations to set up their own public wireless hotspot's. These can be revenue generating for their owners-a trick certainly not lost on the hotel and hospitality industry who've been avid adopters. Normal, everyday organisations are keen to place a public hotspot at their offices so that visitors can access the Internet or their own corporate networks (via VPN) without the need to physically plug-in or create a user ID. Why? Because it looks impressive and makes them look like an innovative, technology led company that offers it guests and visitors as much convenience and service as they can.
The exciting opportunities that WLAN offers are leaving customers who have tasted a little of it salivating for more. When they ask you exactly what wireless can offer them and how far they can push the technology within their network-will you be able to capitalise? If resellers are to capitalise on this opportunity they need to understand the technology and all of the benefits it offers. Increasing your knowledge base and skill set will make maintaining and developing customer relationships that much easier.
Many manufacturers support the channel by offering educational programmes and academies. At D-Link, for example, we operate a channel academy designed to examine technology in detail and provide guidance on consultative approaches, and WLAN is consistently one of the most popular courses.
So will wireless kill the wired network? Did video kill the radio star? I dont think so. Whilst the core backbone may always remain wired, what is more likely is that seamless wired and wireless networks will become the norm. For almost every wired product is a wireless equivalent that customers may readily prefer and by maintaining a consultative approach and having the expertise to meet even he most enthusiastic customer demands, the opportunity for resellers to increase revenue streams and develop new and existing customer relationships is immense.
Tahira Perveen is Country Sales Manager, D-Link, UK and Ireland. D-Link is a worldwide leader and award-winning designer, developer, and true manufacturer of networking, wireless, broadband, digital electronics, and voice and data communications products. These products provide the ideal solution for digital home, small office/home office (SOHO), small to medium business (SMB), and workgroup to enterprise environments.