Recently, Spiceworks organized a video meetup event on a very pertinent topic in current enterprise dynamics; Managing Wi-Fi networks with tons of devices. The meetup was led by a panel of industry experts, including Tajinder Maan (TJ), General Manager of Wi-Fi and Communications at Samsung; Simon Lok, CTO of RG Nets, Inc.; Rowell Dionicio, Managing Director of Packet6; and Huy Tran, Business Technology Consultant at Logik7. Here is a quick snapshot of what was discussed in the meetup.
In today’s world of hyper-connectivity, everyone is looking to connect their devices in order to consume exponential amounts of data–social networks, video chat, Netflix and so much more. Being connected to a device is now second nature.
These dynamics have extended into the enterprise space with equal enormity. Enterprises are looking for ways to provide ready connectivity to not only their employees, but also a constant stream of customers, suppliers, partners, and other visitors. However, this means an influx of connected devices that need seamless connectivity support. The average number of connected devices per capita is at an all-time high! The Cisco Visual Networking Index forecasts an average of 3.5 networked devices per person by 2021. This number further adds to the pressure on the networks, as per capita IP traffic will grow to 35 GB by the same forecasted period–with 80% being IP video traffic.1
To quote TJ, “This has become a real challenge in the enterprise. Today there are a lot more devices connecting to an access point than there were 12 months ago.”
This situation poses challenges for enterprises as Wi-Fi becomes the primary hook for connectivity in an enterprise space for employees and guests. Traffic from wireless and mobile devices through Wi-Fi will account for 63% of the total IP traffic by 2021.2 Enterprises are feeling the burgeoning pressure of effectively managing their growing Wi-Fi network traffic and providing a rich connectivity experience to users. Employees and visitors want to seamlessly continue their connectivity experience when they walk into the enterprise premises, be it the lobby, their desk, the cafeteria, or in the hallways. The addition of IoT in the enterprise has further increased pressure on the Wi-Fi networks, with wired machines such as printers, surveillance cameras, etc. now sharing the Wi-Fi bandwidth with personal devices. Network managers have to be more diligent about how they plan, deploy, and validate Wi-Fi connectivity across their entire premises.
The Wi-Fi Challenges to be Addressed by Enterprise
Radios and SSIDs are constantly feeling the burden of the number of connected devices. At a given time, there might be between 60 and 80 devices on a single SSID. Network managers are constantly fighting some of these technical and economic challenges:
- Wi-Fi access points (APs) support a diverse set of devices that move in and out of coverage. This heterogeneity requires network managers to diligently plan for network design, performance management, capacity planning, and security.
- Enterprises seek to deploy too many APs to account for the growing number of devices, hoping to offload per AP traffic. However, this would be a self-inflicted wound. This could potentially hamper performance owing to the APs interfering with each other if they are placed too close to each other or on overlapping channels.
- Managing the balance between APs and connectors for employees, guests, unique visitors, and IoT.
- Digital transformation of enterprises is adding to the woes of network managers–enterprises are extending a rich digital experience to their brick and mortar establishments, allowing customers to have interactive experiences on their devices.
- The economic impact when enterprise users are not able to use a productivity application, send important deal-making emails, or resolve customer issues can be substantial.
Samsung – Solving Enterprise Wi-Fi Challenges
Cloud Wi-Fi 1.0 has efficiently resolved critical pressure points. The deployment of multiple APs has allowed Wi-Fi as a primary connectivity anchor for enterprise employees, multiple devices and guests to gain ready access. Although Cloud Wi-Fi 1.0 has leveraged its technology to fulfill and support connectivity anchoring for large enterprises and their employees, Cloud Wi-Fi 2.0 brings more promise to the enterprise. As TJ pointed out, “The good news is that in Samsung’s own AP spec, a radio is able to handle up to 256 clients per radio. However, issues are transient and hard to recreate–so the need is to capture the problem for long term solutions.”
Smart Wi-Fi networks can optimize network performance and paths, enable autonomous predictive diagnosis, and raise timely alerts and tickets for human intervention, if required. Overall, next generation Wi-Fi networks will drive network efficiency and support. This augmentation will further decrease incidences of holes in the network and connectivity failures, and will help avoid productivity and revenue loss for enterprises.
Autonomous remediation and intelligence related to issues will reduce incidences of exponential costs related to help desk and IT administrators’ intervention, potentially saving enterprises millions of dollars. Samsung’s AI/ML Wi-Fi solutions are poised to “view what is failing–not spot check–and to form a constant stream of events,” said TJ.
As a global leader in consumer electronics and connectivity solutions, Samsung is paving the way for enterprise digitization and IoT adoption globally through cloud-scale technologies. The wireless network suite– 5G, unlicensed small cell, and Wi-Fi–will be the backbone for connectivity. The ability to auto-detect problems and their location as well as application performance and root-cause analysis is key to Samsung’s solutions. Features like the AIREQUALIZER, AIRMOVE, and Self-Organizing Network (SoN) will further assist in adapting to network conditions and constant changes in RF conditions.
Understanding the challenges of managing at-scale wireless networks, Samsung is looking forward to introducing a next-gen Cloud platform, which will usher the enterprise segment into the era of Intelligent Cloud Wi-Fi. This AI/ML powered Cloud will disrupt the existing market model of a largely CAPEX-oriented view to one that is aimed at lowering TCO, increasing ROI, and making large scale wireless networks a possibility.
The Spiceworks video meetup was well attended and an interesting discussion. You can watch a recording of it below.
1 & 2 Cisco Visual Networking Index Whitepaper, Forecast 2016-2021