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Poll: 61% Want WLAN Switch Now

Unstrung's readers want wireless LAN switches and think they will make implementing 802.11 in the enterprise easier and cheaper. However, any product they buy had damn well better work with the access points they already have and support recognized industry standards, or there'll be holy heck to pay.

That's the conclusion to be drawn from the results of Unstrung's January poll, which was all about these new-fangled devices (see WLAN Switches: The Brains Behind 802.11?).

The basic idea behind these WLAN boxes is that they allow you to manage security, access rights, and available bandwidth from one central point, rather than having to go and tweak the settings on every 802.11 access point you have in your network. That concept "just makes sense," according to 75 percent of those who voted.

There is a debate about whether most of these boxes could be more correctly described as smart shared media hubs, but whatever you call them, 78 percent of respondents like the idea of a centrally managed WLAN network, and 61 percent say they need a wireless switch right NOW! In fact, nearly all our voters say they will need a wireless LAN switch at some point. Only 7 percent say they'll never install such a device on their networks [ed.note: splitters!].

Interoperability will be a key deciding factor for IT managers looking to add these switches to their networks, as 71 percent of respondents say they'll only buy a switch if it can connect to all types of access points.

Some vendors currently use a proprietary protocol for communications between the switch and the access point. That's a big no-no, according to the 80 percent of you, who deem support for industry standards, such as 802.3 (the Ethernet protocol) and Power-Over-Ethernet (POE), as "utterly crucial."

Finally, readers, we have to admit that we pulled a fast one on you with our final poll question. We gave you a list of names and asked which ones you recognized as startups working in the WLAN switch field. Most of you were spot-on with your picks. However, the 5 percent of you that picked Wire-3 Networks should get your dunce hat out, because Wire-3 exists only in our fevered imaginations. There's no such startup!

Ha! Fooled ya!

So, if you don't want more shame and humiliation heaped on your head by colleagues, friends, and random people who wait outside to hurl abuse at you in the street, you should click on over to our latest poll as soon as humanly possible, and choose the wireless technologies you think are likely to be investor hot picks in the near future (see What’s Hot in Wireless?).

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
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