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Carrier WiFi

Management Über Alles

12:55 PM -- Network management is one of those functions that most network users (and even most network operators) never really think about. There are, quite literally, hundreds of functions in a network management solution, including configuration, monitoring, control, alarm processing, report generation, huge databases of events to log and possibly evaluate in potentially hundreds of different ways, security, user administration, and even such elements as billing and trouble-ticket tracking.

But, of course, users don't see or care about this stuff, and all but the guys and girls staring at the Big Board all day seldom give this vital element of network operations a second thought. And there's another problem -- these guys and girls are rarely consulted when a new WLAN purchase is being contemplated.

And that may turn into an even bigger problem as network management becomes a key differentiator in WLAN systems going forward. Think about it -- all the big vendors will be using the same, or at least competitive, chips built into boards based on reference designs. The only good opportunity for differentiation, apart from system architecture, will likely be in network management. And, as the number of functions in NMSes continues to expand, and as unified wired/wireless architectures demand even more management functionality, this is an element of the WLAN game that should not be taken lightly.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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