The expansion of wireless networks in recent years has been phenomenal. The rapidly growing use of smartphones, tablets and corporate acceptance of BYOD has forced businesses to offer wireless connectivity virtually everywhere. Pundits have forecasted the decline of the wired network as we know it and, perhaps, the demise of wired-only network companies.
How then, can a network company that only makes wired network switches still be growing? As with most technology companies, it requires a business to adapt and change, to survive and thrive. The end-user connectivity may be changing, but the importance and dependence on the wired network has never been greater.
What is changing is the nature of the wired network. While wireless networks may change the nature of the network edge, they are very dependent on the wired network for access, aggregation and core. All those wireless access points connect into something. And, as the demands of the wireless network increase, do does the dependence on a high-performance wired network.
Several advances in wireless technology have pushed some wired networks to their limit:
Increased speed of wireless devices from 802.11a to 802.11g to 802.11n and now to 802.11ac
Increased number of devices supported by each access point
Higher bandwidth applications, such as VoIP and video (e.g. surveillance, digital signage, as well as YouTube)
Use of cloud applications and VDI where network latency can destroy the user experience
Network performance is an obvious factor in the success of a wired network, but other important features and capabilities are what make the difference:
Support for high-speed uplinks (10G/40G). Most APs today only support 1G connections to a switch, but when multiple APs are connected to the same switch, higher speed uplinks are needed to keep up with the combined wireless throughput.
Full PoE+ support. In many locations there are no power outlets for the APs, so PoE is essential and much simpler and more cost-effective than using power injectors.
Long-distance stacking. This makes it much easier for customers to take the switch to the APs rather than the other way around.
Distributed services. Allow advanced Layer 3 services to be distributed to entry-level switches, providing flexibility, simplified management and investment protection.
Open standards. Allow customers to choose the wireless network that best fits their needs and know that their wired network will be compatible.
Integration of wired and wireless networks. Work in partnership with the wireless network vendor to ensure compatibility and seamless integration of the combined network. With Brocade and Aruba, customers can use a single set of tools to manage both wired and wireless networks and provide consistent security and policy management for users whether they’re connected via wire or wirelessly.
Take a look at your wired network supplier. Can they measure up to the demands of wireless networks? So, just as a monarchy changes with a generation: The legacy wired network is dead. Long live the new generation of the Effortless Wired Network.