Enterprise connectivity is a silent killer. It can create problems for enterprises without letting them being aware of those problems.
Even five years ago, enterprises were not able to measure the impact of connectivity on their businesses. But using advanced ROI metrics, they can now measure it.
Impact on ROI
A business can easily comprehend the difference between wired and wireless connection in terms of the impact it makes on its ROI.
Cost, control and enterprise-friendliness are among the main concerns of an enterprise. WiFi helps it ride smoothly through all the areas.
Those who favor wired connection consider it cost-efficient. They argue the price of cables is the only thing that an enterprise owner has to worry about; that’s only partially true. The initial setup cost might not be frightening for an enterprise, but the additional expenses are huge.
When it comes to WiFi, the initial cost is often pretty staggering, but the long term benefits can justify this cost. In a previous article, we mentioned all the features that a consumer grade router can offer to a business. The features are:
- VPN support
- Integrated firewall
- Encryption setup
The features let you avail all the perks of wired connectivity along with remote access, robust security, etc. A business grade router costs higher but offers remarkable features such as SSL portal VPN, content filtering, DMZ port, etc.
So, wired connectivity may apparently be costly but in the long run, it’s cost-effective.
Cost is not the only concern for an enterprise. Another equally important consideration is control.
When it comes to connectivity needs, control is also a gray area similar to cost as the benefits of a wired connection are on the surface. But to comprehend those of a wireless connection, you need to dive down to the bottom.
In terms of a wired connection, an enterprise can not only achieve better security but also enjoy full control over assigning connection status. A wireless connection, on the other hand, is vulnerable. Hackers can steal data and infiltrate into someone’s privacy by eavesdropping. They can even develop software for this purpose.
So, wired connection seems to be the preference at a first glance; but it has plenty of limitations. A company with 40-50 employees can run its operations via wired connection, but a company with 200-400 employees needs wireless connectivity.
The biggest weakness of a wired connection is connectivity failure due to a physical reason. To fix a frayed cable or a broken ethernet pin, a professional needs to visit the enterprise premise because there’s no ready-made solution. But WiFi problems are caused due to software glitches, which are easy to fix.
The Mixed Environment
In a mixed environment, an enterprise relies on both wired and wireless connectivity. The enterprise hires people with technical knowledge to harness the benefits of both, and keep the disadvantages at bay.
Following are some of the ways, a mixed environment helps a business:
- Mobile workforce: Many businesses these days have mobile workers. WiFi lets them connect to the world wide web easily from different locations.
- BYOD: PCs and other devices brought to the workplace by employees are of different types. One person may bring an x86 device whereas another one may bring a Phabet. Wired connection is not preferable for all of them. On the other hand, some devices don’t have built-in WiFi feature. A mixed environment accommodates all of them.
- Feasibility: You might feel happy to note that a mixed environment is perfectly feasible. Cisco’s latest unveiling is a Unified Access platform that brings wired and wireless connection close to each other through just one switch.
The platform is called the 5760 Unified Access WLAN controller, and it allows an enterprise to enable and manage a wireless connection alongside a wired connection. Here’s a video that shows how the WLAN controller works.
It’s too early for us to predict whether the mixed environment is the future of enterprise WiFi. But as I’ve explained all through the previous paragraph, the mixed environment consists of benefits in droves for enterprises.
It’s true that enterprises are still largely taken with wired connection. Another truism is of late, they are showing a predilection for wireless connection. The mixed connection may offset the demerits of both and prove itself highly useful.
WiFi Image via Shutterstock
I think it is best to go with mixed. This way, you are not highly dependent on one and can still function in case one malfunctions. It is just a bit more expensive, but it will be worth it.