In the first post on this topic, we looked at the factors affecting enterprise wireless networks, such as capacity, latency, and resource allocation. Today we take a closer look at the effects of IoT traffic and the transformative factors affecting enterprise wireless networks.

Much of IoT traffic is local; it is exchanged with devices within the venue, or it uses content or data that is stored, generated or processed within the venue. In these environments, there is no need for traffic to go back to the core. That is a good thing, because any additional trips to the core increase latency.

Increased latency makes it more difficult to share applications across local networks if they are operated by different entities. It also uses backhaul resources needlessly and may unnecessarily expose the enterprise to security challenges.

A local breakout that allows the enterprise to store selected content and host its own applications within the venue is one of the contributions of edge computing that will help address this need. In a private network, local breakout is organically built in. In an enterprise network that is part of a public network, the enterprise will expect the operator or other service provider to provide local breakout functionality.

Security, reliability, and resiliency

The deeper the reach of wireless into the enterprise’s inner workings, the greater the need for security and the wider the scope of security within the venue.

Not only does the enterprise need to protect itself from the network side, it also has to protect itself from the device side. Devices are already a growing area of concern, with employees and visitors often using multiple connected devices. But devices will become a more complex challenge with the addition of IoT, because of their number and multiple form factors, and because they are not actively monitored by (or in proximity to) a human user.

IoT devices may become a prime target for attacks directed at the enterprise. They may be in locations easily accessible by unauthorized users, and in many cases it will not be possible to physically protect them from malicious access.

Security, reliability and resiliency become more important as wireless connectivity becomes an integral component of business processes. This is already the case with Wi-Fi in many enterprises. If Wi-Fi connectivity goes down, productivity suffers, and some tasks break down. Even without IoT, mobile connectivity is essential to most employees. With IoT, reliability and resiliency will become even more crucial to the enterprise.

Transformative factors

A new report looks at the factors driving the transformation of wireless in the enterprise – keeping in mind that this transformation goes well beyond the enterprise. Indeed, it will require significant support from service providers eager to reduce costs and offer a better experience to their subscribers. Here are some of the key factors in this transformation:

  • Enterprise wireless connectivity needs are expanding well beyond connectivity for employees and guests, as a result of the growth of IoT and the deeper penetration of wireless in enterprise processes.
  • Wireless connectivity in the enterprise is becoming access-agnostic, with multiple technologies integrated and multiple co-existing service models.
  • Serving the venue-specific needs of the enterprise has become a top priority for mobile operators.
  • The enterprise is becoming more active in owning, controlling and managing the wireless infrastructure to ensure it meets its requirements. This is especially true in the “middleprise,” which is the biggest but also hardest to serve market segment for mobile operators.
  • Private networks have emerged as a driver for a wider role of the enterprise in mobile networks. Use of the CBRS (Citizen Broadband Radio Service) bands and shared spectrum will be a crucial testing ground for private networks and the new business models they enable.
  • The evolution of wireless in the enterprise does not stop within the walls. It will help change the way we think of and use spectrum rights and how we deal with the impact of venue ownership in the deployment and operation of mobile networks.
  • As we move from atomic to pervasive networks, the enterprise will benefit from the increased role of venue ownership, the wider choice of RAN topologies, and the technological advances that will culminate in 5G.

The enterprise transformation report includes an extensive conversation with Jan Geldmacher, President of Sprint Business, in which he shares his vision for the evolution of the relationship between operators and the enterprise, and the need to introduce new flexible models and services to address the needs of both large and small enterprises.