Wireless issues take priority
As enterprises seek to reap the benefits of mobility, 64% of businesses intend to increase deployments of wireless local-area networks (WLAN) during the next 12 months, according to a survey by Gartner. Meanwhile, Forrester’s latest survey of telecom decision-makers at North American businesses found that gaining control over wireless environments is the highest telecom priority.
A total of 44% of respondents surveyed by Gartner, from 200 networking and business technology organizations in North America and Europe, say the primary reason to deploy a WLAN was improving productivity with mobility. Twenty-one percent say the primary reason is to provide access to places not possible to wire, while 13% of respondents think wireless networks are a less-expensive or simpler way to deploy LAN connectivity, or they considered using WLANs to improve efficiency in specific business processes or operations.
In the Forrester report, more than 1,500 respondents rank setting wireless policy and centralizing management of mobile devices as the two top telecom initiatives for 2006. Budgets reflect these priorities: In 2006, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) plan to spend one-third more on both mobile voice and mobile data services than in 2005. Fifty-six percent of larger enterprises expect spending on mobile voice to increase, and 63% expect mobile data spending to increase.
“Although wireless LANs are not a new endeavor, interest in them is still growing,” says Gartner’s Rachna Ahlawat. “Wireless LANs are becoming a standard part of enterprise networks, covering entire facilities, not just meeting rooms. However, as wireless LANs expand from conference rooms to the whole enterprise, concerns about security and network management are rising. We’ve gone from thinking of offices as network nodes to considering each employee as a node on a wired network. Now, every major physical item the company owns is becoming a node on a wireless network.”
Security in adopting WLANs is among the top five concerns of 95% of respondents to the Gartner study, and 60% of respondents say they do not have adequate security for their wireless environment. The second-biggest concern is the management of WLANs.
According to the Forrester study, companies of all sizes spend nearly one-quarter of their telecom budgets on wireless services and that number continues to grow. The percentage of large companies that have increased mobile data spending has doubled since 2005, and 19% of the enterprise workforce now uses mobile data applications. SMBs expect 23% of their workforce to use mobile data by the end of 2006.
Seven top security tips
Is it really the fault of problems with a virus protection program, or an insecure hotspot, if notebook users lose data? A recent Gartner study showed that 86% of all security events in wireless networks are caused by the mobile devices–and not by insecure data transfer. Utimaco Safeware, a specialist in mobile security, offers these seven tips for securing employees’ notebooks.
1. More discipline when on the move. Airline passengers lost more than 5,000 mobile devices at airports in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, a survey at the 10 largest airports in the region revealed. It might sound obvious, but if you travel with a notebook, you should always make sure that you really have the notebook case, including all its contents, over your shoulder before you leave the plane, taxi or train.
2. Making passwords more difficult to crack. If the worst happens, and your computer is stolen or lost, there is still hope that your personal data is not all accessible, if the password is difficult enough to crack. A mixture of characters, numbers and letters is considered the most secure, but having the computer prompt for a password before booting is better.
3. Use hardware to supplement password protection. Special smartcards or tokens store key information that is used in combination with a user password to unlock the computer. Only someone who has the token and knows the password can access the system and the data saved on it. Alternatively, the user’s biometric data can be stored on a smartcard, with the user’s fingerprint checked directly on the card, instead of the password.
4. Secure hibernation mode. Set up the system to prompt for the password again when the notebook switches back from the screen saver or from hibernation mode to normal working mode.
5. Set up an electronic safe. Never save valuable information without protecting it electronically.
The electronic pendant is a “virtual” disk drive that securely encrypts and stores all its contents. You can set up an electronic safe of this kind on local hard disks and network directories, on the PDA, and also on mobile devices such as USB sticks and smartcards, CD-ROMs, and DVDs.
6. Implement automatic encryption. Data-transparent encryption runs automatically in the background, without being noticed, so the user does not even have to think about storing
7. Restrict plug and play. Lock the computer for all memory media apart from the company’s own memory sticks, which cannot be used to run or read programs. This also removes the danger of accidentally loading a worm or virus on your own hard disk if you lend the data medium to someone. In addition, you should only use sensitive data on USB sticks when it is encrypted, as the smaller the memory device, the greater the danger that it will get lost or stolen.
Voice market expanding
The U.S. enterprise equipment market strengthened in the 2004 and 2005 period, expanding 14%, compared with only 5% growth in previous years (2000-03), according to the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA). Total revenue from spending on enterprise equipment reached $98.3 billion in 2005, an increase of 6.9% over 2004, and is expected to climb to $104.5 billion in 2006. Computer-telephony integration (CTI) was the fastest-growing component of the enterprise market in 2005, with a 10.5% increase to $5.7 billion, followed by videoconferencing equipment, which rose 10%, reaching $825 million.
The enterprise equipment market tracked by TIA consists of private branch exchanges (PBXs), key telephone systems (KTSs), voice-processing equipment, internetworking equipment, videoconferencing equipment, and CTI systems and software.
Enterprise equipment revenue was hampered by the weak economic climate in 2001-03 and by Y2K concerns in the late 1990s, which caused companies to replace equipment more quickly than they might have otherwise. In 2000-03, equipment was relatively new, lessening the demand to replace or upgrade. By 2004, however, equipment purchased in 1998-1999 was beginning to age, leases were expiring, the economy had improved and enterprises were once again looking to upgrade their existing infrastructure.
Purchases picked up in 2004-05, concentrating on IP and convergent systems and internetworking equipment to support those systems. As legacy equipment ages, replacement demand, along with rapid growth in videoconferencing and unified communications, will continue to fuel spending. Total revenue from spending on enterprise equipment is expected to reach $121.7 billion by 2009, growing at a 5.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
PBX revenue increased 20% percent in 2004-05 to $4.1 billion on the strength of accelerating IP/converged sales. The KTS market, which plunged 42% over the 2000-03 period, rebounded 7%. Voice-processing equipment also rebounded in 2004-05 following three years of decline, increasing 6.5% in 2005, totaling $5.3 billion. Internetworking equipment increased 6.7% in 2005 to $81.1 billion, its largest gain in five years; internetworking equipment will expand at a 5.7% CAGR from 2006-09, fueled by advances in Gigabit Ethernet.
IP/converged systems will continue to fuel PBX sales over the next few years. By 2009, however, as the installed base becomes predominantly IP, most equipment will be relatively new, and the replacement demand for PBXs will drop. TIA predicts revenue growth in this area will fall to 1.1% in 2009, following three years of mid-to-high single-digit gains.