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The Enterprise Goes Wireless

5:40 PM -- I had the privilege last week of chairing the keynote panel at Interop on the subject of "When Will Enterprise Mobility Go Mainstream?" As you might guess, the panel was populated with folks from major suppliers and operators, and the mood was of course upbeat. But other direct research I and others did at the show indeed indicate that wireless is more than mainstream in the enterprise today.

I always do surveys in the tutorials I teach at Interop. In this year's class of about 100, nearly everyone had a wireless LAN in their house, the vast majority has WLANs installed at work, and, of course, everyone had a cellphone and many were using wireless data via these phones or PC cards in notebooks. Many had Bluetooth headsets, but only about three or four were using Bluetooth for anything but a headset. Even with that final data point, wireless has indeed gone mainstream, at least among those leading-edge types who attend Interop in the first place.

But many of these are influencers within their organizations -- network managers, network support technicians, network planners, and IT management in general. This leads me to the conclusion that, if wireless data is good enough for them, it's good enough for everyone else with a need for mobile connectivity. And that's a very large number of potential users indeed.

As to showstoppers in the enterprise, well, it used to be security, and then ROI/TCO. I think we've successfully addressed these in the vast majority of cases. It now appears that application integration and application mobility are the key concerns, but I think mobile Web services will address most of this, along with creative caching of data and a little bit of local processing in some cases. In short -- no showstoppers. So, whether you're already convinced or still a skeptic, the enterprise is going wireless. It's now inevitable.

— 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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