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The practitioner's view of wireless

Just don't forget basic IT principles

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

For those wishing to go down the Windows Mobile route, though, the general consensus was to consider a third party policy management solution from the likes of iAnywhere, for example, that can provide a similar level of policy driven management and control to that enjoyed by the BlackBerry contingent. The advantage here, of course, is that these kinds of independent platforms typically support a wide range of devices, not just Microsoft, which is handy in a world in which it is becoming increasingly more difficult to predict how device form factors and needs will develop over time.

But wireless is not wireless without, well, the wireless bit! In our last discussion in the workshop we therefore looked at requirements for wireless networks and asked whether it’s just about speed, or whether other things matter too. One of the most interesting parts of this exercise was the result of a poll we ran looking at the relative importance of different connectivity related elements in relation to notebook PC and wireless handheld use. In both cases (see here and here), top of the list was connection stability and consistency of performance.

Speed thrills

Again, this is very much a back to basics thing, sending a clear message to service providers to ensure that they focus on the real world user experience. We need to get away from talking about headline theoretical speeds of the air interface (the radio bit), whether it be WiFi, WiMax, UMTS or HSDPA. All of the impressive numbers we hear count for nought if congestion or backhaul constraints mean your performance goes up and down like a Yo-Yo and/or you keep getting thrown off the network.

Pulling it all together, it’s very clear from the workshop that wireless remote access is now way beyond the early adopter stage, and the use of both WiFi and cellular connectivity to meet the needs of mobile users is a serious mainstream activity. As a result, IT departments are thinking and acting exactly as they should, focusing less on all of the distractions that bleed over from consumer land, and more on making sure solutions are securable, manageable, scalable and fit for business purpose.

This should be regarded as good news for the mobile industry, but there is a warning in here for mobile operators and handset vendors in particular, who in most cases need to get a lot more IT savvy than they are today.

The bottom line is that mobile connectivity is not something to be considered in isolation, and the best advice for IT professionals getting involved in this area for the first time is to apply all the same principles that are fundamental to the successful delivery of IT services in general. But all you experienced hands out there know that already, so thanks to those of you who participated in the workshop for helping the rest of us get up to speed.®

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