The Wi-Fi Tech Conference Challenge - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Mobile
Commentary
12/29/2010
07:29 PM
Kurt Marko
Kurt Marko
Commentary
Connect Directly
Facebook
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

The Wi-Fi Tech Conference Challenge

For those of us who see wireless LANs rapidly displacing wired Ethernet as the client access protocol of choice, there was a rather disturbing article in the NYT highlighting the high-profile Wi-Fi meltdowns at various tech conferences over the past year. Most of us are familiar with some of those embarrassing moments, such as the one depicted in the article of a frustrated

For those of us who see wireless LANs rapidly displacing wired Ethernet as the client access protocol of choice, there was a rather disturbing article in the NYT highlighting the high-profile Wi-Fi meltdowns at various tech conferences over the past year. Most of us are familiar with some of those embarrassing moments, such as the one depicted in the article of a frustrated Steve Jobs trying to demo a new iPhone, where a large gathering of tech geeks overloads a conference room's WLAN leaving the poor speaker frantically typing and swiping trying to show off their latest Internet-dependent product.

What bothered me about this piece is the sense of resignation; that Wi-Fi overload is just a fact of life in our hyper-connected age. This quote sums up the lassitude:

The problem is that Wi-Fi was never intended for large halls and thousands of people, many of them bristling with an arsenal of laptops, iPhones and iPads. Mr. Calacanis went to the extreme at the Web 2.0 Summit by bringing six devices to get online -- a laptop, two smartphones and three wireless routers.

So I want to issue a challenge to all enterprise WLAN equipment vendors: pick a big tech gathering in the next few months and use it as a technology showcase. I've written several features in the past year looking at competing WLAN architectures, cell topologies and RF technologies, and invariably each vendor touts theirs as the most scalable and reliable. Well, come on Cisco, Aruba, Meru et. al. Can you handle the Jobsian challenge? Can you save Steve the embarrassment of asking everyone to turn off their Wi-Fi adapters so he can make it through his product rollout? Let's see if a single channel architecture is really superior to the micro cell consensus.

The gauntlet has been thrown. IW is sponsoring Interop in May, what about doing a bake off in different convention halls to see whose technology can handle the load of a thousand Web-starved geeks. It might even give smaller players like Aerohive and Ruckus a chance to stand out from the crowd. I don't agree with the founder of Mariette Systems (quoted in the Times piece) that "Wi-Fi is meant for homes and other small spaces with more modest Internet demands." That's just consigning wireless to it's historical position of being a convenient adjunct to wired. If WLANs are really ready to displace Ethernet in the office, let's see its suppliers tackle the toughest of problems.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
10 Ways to Prepare Your IT Organization for the Next Crisis
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/20/2020
News
IT Spending Forecast: Unfortunately, It's Going to Hurt
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/15/2020
Commentary
Helping Developers and Enterprises Answer the Skills Dilemma
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  5/19/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
The State of IT & Cybersecurity Operations 2020
The State of IT & Cybersecurity Operations 2020
Download this report from InformationWeek, in partnership with Dark Reading, to learn more about how today's IT operations teams work with cybersecurity operations, what technologies they are using, and how they communicate and share responsibility--or create risk by failing to do so. Get it now!
Video
Current Issue
Key to Cloud Success: The Right Management
This IT Trend highlights some of the steps IT teams can take to keep their cloud environments running in a safe, efficient manner.
Slideshows
Flash Poll