By Terry Sweeney
With Dr. Sam Book, a partner at ForceNine Consulting. ForceNine recently released a study titled "Sectoral Analysis of U.S. Enterprise WLANs: Adoption, Applications, and Barriers to Growth." The report and other work by ForceNine, according to Book, suggest the enterprise demand for WLANs will grow in proportion to IT executives' comfort with security measures.
This interview originally appeared in the IT Business Edge weekly report on Fortifying Network Security. To see a complete listing of IT Business Edge weekly reports or sign up for this free technology intelligence agent, visit http://www.itbusinessedge.com.
Question: How interdependent are the residential and business 802.11 markets?
Book: The equipment is essentially the same with one major difference, and that's the security issue. Typically for home or even small office/home office [users], wireless LAN security is important, but is not the overwhelming or dominant concern. Whereas with large enterprise wireless LANs, especially in sensitive industries [and] in government offices, security is absolutely the No. 1 concern, and in fact it's a major barrier to adoption and expansion of enterprise WLANs.
Question: What is the key issue in the enterprise WLAN segment?
Book: From the study that we did...what seems pretty clear is that for large users—business and government organizations—as soon as the security issue is 100 percent resolved to the satisfaction of the CIOs and IT executives, the enterprise wireless LAN market will really start to take off. Most of them I think have their reservations. There also is quite a disparity of knowledge and awareness about standards and security and [related] issues even among IT executives who know their own work very well.
Question: If the public Wi-Fi market slumps—as some people suggest is possible—it could impact the price of equipment. Is this a concern?
Book: [F]or the enterprise market...cost is not the major factor. If there is a real need for wireless connectivity within the office complex, the cost savings and the increased efficiency and productivity of high-level employees more than makes up for the cost. We asked IT executives to rate three possible concerns: standards and interoperability, security, and cost. Almost all of them rated cost third. More were concerned with security first and then standards.