Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
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Zeus Kerravala | November 05, 2012 |


Enterasys IdentiFi's An Opportunity with BYOD

Enterasys IdentiFi's An Opportunity with BYOD The solution includes not just access points and controllers but also management software.

The solution includes not just access points and controllers but also management software.

This morning Enterasys, a Siemens Enterprise Communications Company, announced its next generation WiFi solution, called "IdentiFi". The IdentiFi solution is the wireless portion of the company's integrated wired and wireless story called OneFabric.

With this launch, Enterasys, like so many other WiFi solution providers, is trying to capitalize on the opportunity created with the rapid consumerization of the enterprise.

Consumerization or "bring your own device" has become maybe the single most powerful driving force in all of IT. 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% of organizations now have a BYOD plan in place (source: ZK Research). The level of support tends to vary across this 82% percent, but it's become a key initiative for many companies today.

What I like most about the Enterasys announcement is that it focuses on all of the challenges that BYOD brings once the devices have been on-boarded. To date, much of the BYOD focus has been on mobile device management to securely on-board a device. While that's important, it's really when the devices actually start using the network that the fun gets started for the network team.

BYOD gives users the opportunity to do a bunch of stuff that most wireless networks aren't capable of supporting. It can be used for high definition video, streaming media, desktop virtualization and other bandwidth-intensive things. 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 enterprise-wide wireless, but also handle the massive influx of devices that creates many of the unpredictable problems today.

The solution has been designed to provide a consistently high quality experience in what the company calls "hyper-dense" device environments. These are typically public areas, conference rooms, hotel lobbies, conference centers, etc.

I think most of us have experienced this--when the WiFi can't handle the traffic. Think of when you were in an airport, conference center, coffee shop, etc, trying to use the WiFi and the performance is so bad that almost any other type of connectivity will do. Unfortunately, this is much more the norm than the exception in today's world.

As a proof point of the quality of IdentiFi, Enterasys highlights Gillette Stadium, home of Tom "Mr. Bundchen" Brady and the New England Patriots. Stadiums are one of the most demanding environments, as there are tens of thousands of people snapping pictures, uploading photos, listening to on-line broadcasts, tweeting and doing other things from WiFi enabled devices. If it can work at "the Razor" it can work in pretty much any environment.

In addition to its ability to handle highly dense environments, there were a few other things I liked about the announced solution. First, the controllers were available in physical and virtual form. I know virtual controllers have become all the rage, but there's still a place for physical ones. The idea is to have both available so customers can deploy what they want, where they want.

Also, I like how the RF management and security features provide spectrum analysis, location awareness and other security features at no extra cost. These features are a must in a BYOD environment, so it's good to see Enterasys making it a standard part of the offering.

Additionally, there's the OneFabric control center that gives a single pane of glass through which to see both the wired and wireless networks. I know most people don't buy wired and wireless at same time, but the ability to create a single, unified view of both environments is extremely important. In the work I do with buyers, I always recommend they "know their network," and the only way to do that is to have strong visibility tools, and the OneFabric control center provides that lens.

Enterasys may not be the best-known wireless vendor, but the wireless part of the business has actually been growing incredibly fast for a company that's better known for its security story. The last set of Dell'Oro numbers showed Enterasys's WiFi business having grown 36% year over year, which certainly isn't what I would have expected.

As I've always said, market transitions are the best time to grab share, and BYOD has put us smack in the middle of a market transition that given Enterasys some tailwinds. The IdentiFi launch should allow it to keep them going.


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