It's hard to argue with a technology that promises as much as wireless networking. Computers, communications devices and -- not incidentally -- workers can be liberated from the constraints of the desktop, while organizations can deploy networks at surprisingly low cost and bother.
"The reality is that wireless is a good thing, and the cost savings that you can have from not wiring an office are real," says In-Stat research analyst Victoria Fodale. "If you're a new company, in a greenfield situation, it can get you up and running in a hurry, and that can be pretty attractive."
Yet for all the promise and advantages, a wireless local area network (WLAN) might not be the panacea for all network infrastructure woes. It might work very well in some circumstances, but in others, it might not work at all. For some organizations, wireless, for all of its inherent coolness -- and, let's face it, networking without wires is cool -- isn't an answer for anything but headaches.
One of the biggest headaches for many companies is just keeping up with rogue deployments. Anyone can traipse down to Circuit City and pick up a $60 wireless router, and it seems that just about anyone does. "Companies are annoyed because wireless started ad-hoc, and now they have to use rogue access point detectors to clean things up," Fodale says. "They're annoyed that this is something that they have to get in front of."
It's not just that the IT department doesn't like individual departments poaching on its preserve; organizations have some very real and serious concerns about wireless that aren't alleviated by having employees set up rogue access points. "Wireless might simply be outside an organization's comfort zone," Fodale says. "Like everything else, businesses have to evaluate it against the business value that it brings to the organization and the risks of where they could be exposed."