Enterasys Networks is rolling out a new WiFi solution that is aimed at helping organizations deal with the rapid influx of mobile devices onto their wireless networks fueled by the rise of such trends as mobile computing and bring your own device (BYOD).
Enterasys' IdentiFi—which is the wireless part of the company's larger OneFabric Edge architecture for wired and wireless networks—includes a host of WiFi solution components, from access points and controllers to management and security capabilities. The goal is to give organizations a solution that will address the growing demand for what company officials are calling "hyper-dense" WiFi environments, where huge numbers of wireless devices are accessing the corporate WiFi networks with users that are expecting a good experience.
The solution, introduced Nov. 5, touches on the key aspects of modern WiFi networks, from scalability and visibility to security and application performance. In addition, the architecture offers organizations a single, centralized tool for managing both their wired and wireless networks. It falls in line with what Enterasys has been doing for 10 years or more, according to Vala Afshar, chief marketing officer and chief customer officer at Enterasys, which is owned by Siemens Enterprise Communications.
"To deliver best-in-class mobility solutions, we at Enterasys believe experience matters," Afshar said in a statement. "For more than a decade, our networking experience, including WiFi, has enabled thousands of worldwide customers across all verticals to implement state-of-the-art mobility solutions."
Included in the IdentiFi are the 3700 Series access points, which officials said are designed to address the security, reliability, density and availability requirements that come with the high traffic demands generated by BYOD and mobile computing. The access points are easy to deploy, cost less than wired solutions and offer wired-level performance, according to company officials.
In addition, the IdentiFi architecture includes both physical and virtual controllers that offer quick deployment of enterprise-grade wireless capabilities. Features such as new radio-frequency management, spectrum analysis, location awareness and security offerings are built into the solution, and the OneFabric Control Center enables organizations to manage both wired and wireless networks from a single place.
Enterasys' IdentiFi architecture—which is available immediately, starting at $595 for the entry-level 3705i access point—already has been deployed in several places, including Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio, which is using the technology for its BYOD and wireless networking efforts. In addition, the city of Staunton, Va., is using the OneFabric Edge platform, including deploying IdentiFi for the free public WiFi in the city's Gypsy Hill Park, according to Enterasys officials.
IdentiFi also has been deployed at Gillette Stadium, in Foxboro, Mass., home of the NFL's New England Patriots. Officials with the football team said the technology was being used to ensure that the 70,000 fans who come to the games have a good user experience as they use their devices at the stadium.
With the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets by consumers, more employees are now demanding that they have access to the corporate network and data from their personal wireless devices. That BYOD trend, along with the growing numbers of mobile workers, is putting pressure on IT staffs to ensure that access while not endangering the company's network or data.
"Consumerization, or 'bring your own device,' has become maybe the single most powerful driving force in all of IT," Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, said in a Nov. 5 post on the NoJitter blog. "In many organizations, BYOD is being driven from the C-level, line-of-business managers, HR departments and other non-IT functions. This is one of the reasons that 82 percent of organizations now have a BYOD plan in place [according to his research]. The level of support tends to vary across this 82 percent, but it's become a key initiative for many companies today."
Many of the BYOD efforts from vendors have focused on enabling organizations to more easily and securely bring the employee's wireless device onto the corporate network, Kerravala wrote. Enterasys, with IdentiFi, is focusing on other issues as well, including how to better manage the large numbers of devices once they are connected to the network.
"While [secure on-boarding of devices is] important, it's really when the devices actually start using the network that the fun gets started for the network team," he wrote, noting that BYOD means more devices being used for high-bandwidth jobs, from high-definition video to streaming media to desktop virtualization. "This can play absolute havoc with legacy enterprise wireless networks, as they are shared media meant for best-effort traffic. IdentiFi is a solution that includes not just access points and controllers but also management software. It's well-thought-out, allowing companies to not just deploy enterprisewide wireless, but also handle the massive influx of devices that creates many of the unpredictable problems today."