Category Sponsorship Banner Left

Category Sponsorship Banner Right

Category Sponsorship Banner Middle

Monday, 04 December 2017 16:02

Wi-Fi is booming, says Cisco executive

By

"We're seeing a boom in Wi-Fi," Cisco ANZ director for enterprise networking Rob De Nicolo told iTWire.

Wireless networking has become a critical enabler for businesses, and organisations are preparing their networks to accommodate multiple trends, he explained.

• More devices. The number of Wi-Fi devices deployed is growing rapidly. De Nicolo pointed to figures from the Wi-Fi Alliance showing that there were already eight billion devices earlier in 2017 with another three billion to ship by the end of the year, and Gartner's prediction of 21 billion devices by 2020.

• User expectations. There is a growing expectation of ubiquitous coverage in the workplace, driven in part by the move to 'mobile first' working practices. For example, electronic health records can make a big difference to healthcare delivery providing they are accessible wherever the practitioner happens to be.

• More traffic. Cisco's prediction is that global IP traffic will triple in the five years to 2021, growing to 278 exabytes per month, and 53% of this will flow over Wi-Fi connections. Of the remainder, 20% will be cellular and 27% over fixed networks.

But that growth in traffic has an upside, De Nicolo suggested. More traffic means more data to provide insights from connected devices and infrastructure, which can be used to improve the connected experience and to improve security. This extra data will allow more accurate decisions to be made in less time.

People don't only expect good Wi-Fi in their workplaces – it's important to provide them with connected experiences at venues such as airports, university campuses, stadiums, galleries and convention centres.

There is an "expectation that the physical experience is augmented with a virtual experience".

One example can be seen at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, where food and beverage sales increased by 47% after the introduction of a system that lets people place orders from their seats and be notified when the items are ready to be collected.

Cisco's Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) system makes it easier to provide a customised experience for different events, he claimed, and to use analytics to gain a better understanding of attendees in order to customise content and improve engagement.

Getting the full benefits of a modern Wi-Fi network requires a change in mindset, De Nicolo suggested. It needs to be seen as "a strategic investment that facilitates digitalisation".

This means getting away from the traditional project-by-project view, and instead regarding it as infrastructure that doesn't just address an immediate problem but also provides benefits for future projects.

For instance, where a retailer may have initially installed a Wi-Fi network to support mobile PoS devices, it may now want to use mobile apps to improve customer engagement through special offers, loyalty programs and so on. The existing infrastructure is generally not up to the job, but rather than installing a separate customer network, a better approach is to go for an improved, converged network that can keep separate the different uses.

Cisco uses the term "network intuitive" to describe the second phase of its digital network architecture. The idea is to overlay business rules onto networks, making it relatively easy to deal with situations such as that retail example, and importantly to do so in an automated manner.

Similarly, it makes it possible to determine thresholds that indicate problems are approaching, and then take appropriate action. That might be as simple as alerting the appropriate people, but it could apply machine learning to make changes to rectify the situation.

Such ML capabilities can also be used to improve security by detecting abnormal traffic passing through access points, switches and other pieces of network infrastructure. Again, any deviation can trigger an alert or an automated network policy change.

"We've been able to do that for a couple of years," said De Nicolo, but what's changed recently is the addition of the ability to detect abnormal encrypted traffic — eg, from malware — without having to decrypt it first.

More generally, increased automation can generate significant economies. About three-quarters of the cost of a network is in its management and associated application, as opposed to the capital cost.

"We can dramatically change the economics of networking [through automation]," he said.

Based on early field trials with customers, the ongoing costs can be reduced by up to 60% when using Cisco's technologies.

Analytics based on network data can be used in other ways to benefit an organisation.

For example, Deakin University's smart campus strategy in part focuses on proximity, using network-derived data to help students find a quiet space in a library, to help librarians locate and identify a student who has requested assistance, or to help staff or students find the closest resource of a particular type.

Closer to Melbourne's CBD, the University of Melbourne's extensive campus is about to be split by engineering works for the Metro underground railway project. The university needed to understand the movements of the 200,000 people who come onto the campus on any day in order to determine how the project will affect flows so it can tale steps to minimise the disruption.

A video system was considered, but was not cost effective. Instead, data from the University of Melbourne's 4,500 Wi-Fi access points is being used to the same end.

"They're not unique," said De Nicolo. Similar approaches are being used to manage queues at airports, and to identify parts of premises that are infrequently used with a view to reducing the footprint and therefore real estate costs.

More generally, Wi-Fi can be used to help improve various workflows. He gave the example of a hospital fridge used to store temperature-sensitive drugs. Previously, it automatically requested a service call if the temperature exceeded a certain level. Now, before that request is placed a nearby nurse is called to check that the door hasn't been left open.

"It's an exciting time in the wireless space," with significant growth in the Australian market. "Mobility has become fundamental to business."


Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here

GRAND OPENING OF THE ITWIRE SHOP

The much awaited iTWire Shop is now open to our readers.

Visit the iTWire Shop, a leading destination for stylish accessories, gear & gadgets, lifestyle products and everyday portable office essentials, drones, zoom lenses for smartphones, software and online training.

PLUS Big Brands include: Apple, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sennheiser and many more.

Products available for any country.

We hope you enjoy and find value in the much anticipated iTWire Shop.

ENTER THE SHOP NOW!

INTRODUCING ITWIRE TV

iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the iTWire.com site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.

SEE WHAT'S ON ITWIRE TV NOW!

BACK TO HOME PAGE
Stephen Withers

joomla visitors

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous

WEBINARS ONLINE & ON-DEMAND

GUEST ARTICLES

VENDOR NEWS

Guest Opinion

Guest Interviews

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News

Comments