Wi-Fi plays an ever-increasing role in effective Unified Communications

While many organisations have made the move to the cloud and virtualised applications and servers in their data centres, they have been slow to virtualise UC applications.

June 19, 2013

While many organisations have made the move to the cloud and virtualised applications and servers in their data centres, they have been slow to virtualise Unified Communications (UC) applications says Ruckus Wireless, Inc. (NYSE: RKUS). However, with the technological advancements made, solutions have certainly matured and companies can virtualise communications and collaboration applications without being concerned about the impact on business operations.

Says Michael Fletcher, Sales Director for Ruckus Wireless, Sub-Saharan Africa: “Wireless technologies have played a big role in opening up Internet access, allowing people to communicate with others in remote locations and as communication methods converge, Wi-Fi makes it easier for one to leverage UC to enable access to critical business applications from a common interface.”

Is unified communication happening?
The recent 2013 ITWeb Unified Communications survey was completed by 104 respondents, of which 48.64% hold middle management positions or higher and 25.23% are IT specialists. Of these, 68.04% said that they understand the business benefits of unified communications and 31.96% of them stated that adoption of unified communications was extensive in their organisation. However, currently 34.02% have no plans yet to deploy unified communications, with 30.93% having already deployed and 13.4% intending to deploy within the next 12 months. Interestingly, over half the respondents do not view the procurement of unified communications as a capital expense and 63.44% believed that cloud based unified communications services were an option.

System overload
However as more employees subscribe to the BYOD phenomenon, organisations face an overwhelming burden on their existing networks. In addition to the associated increase in costs, the management of this explosion in mobile device usage is onerous. With the increased use of personal smart devices, some of the predominant issues faced by organisations are related to performance, security and management.

“In line with this, Ruckus has developed a new framework for device agnostic networking (DAN) that helps organisations reduce the burden on IT staff and associated management related costs,” adds Fletcher. “It combines important access management capabilities with the industry’s highest capacity wireless LAN (WLAN) system, Ruckus ZoneFlex. The network drives down mobility service management costs while rapidly scaling the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi infrastructures to meet the influx of new Wi-Fi devices piggybacking on their networks. What’s more, important efforts in mobile networking to safely and automatically weave smartphones and other devices among Wi-Fi hotspots are currently being made which will allow Wi-Fi to weave itself into the fabric of the mobile experience so much so that it will start to disappear from view – making connecting seamless.”

Hot to trot
The Wi-Fi Alliance Hotspot 2.0 Technical Task Group is responsible for developing a set of specifications on how users can move among Wi-Fi networks that are operated by different service providers, without having to check network names or enter passwords. Currently mobile users can move automatically onto Wi-Fi networks that are operated by their own carriers but moving on to hotspots operated by other networks is a little more difficult.

“Hotspot 2.0 is currently undergoing lab trials and will hopefully be released either later this year or early in 2014,” adds Fletcher. “It will provide enterprises with the opportunity to offer their existing wireless LAN capacity to a number of operators, by charging them recurring fees for Wi-Fi network access. The advantage for users is a seamless Wi-Fi experience.”

Additionally, the availability of higher bandwidth and greater reliability, as offered by the new 802.11n standards, makes voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) feasible. Coupled with this, the imminent launch of Hotspot 2.0 bodes well for increasing adoption of Unified Communications.

With the growth of mobile devices and consumerisation of IT, there is now huge demand by enterprises for the use of diverse smartphones using advanced Wi-Fi and VoIP technology and as the corporate workforce becomes increasingly mobile, desk phones are giving way to smartphones, while powerful tablet devices marginalise PCs. As these smart devices pop up everywhere within companies, more Wi-Fi will be needed to achieve the same performance as traditional laptops.

“Ruckus is bringing together the industry’s highest capacity WLAN system with essential elements for addressing this in a simplified and integrated framework. Unified communications has never been this easy,” concludes Fletcher.