Enterprise mobile computing spurs change in UK networking trends

A driving demand for enterprise mobile computing devices and applications is driving a shift toward unified wired and wireless networking in the UK networking industry, according to HP Networking UK chief Barry Bonnett.

The proliferation of mobile endpoints in the enterprise and demand for enterprise mobile computing applications is driving several UK networking industry trends, including a move toward unified wired and wireless networking. We met with Barry Bonnett, director of HP Networking UK and Ireland, to discuss how the increased use of mobile computing devices is impacting corporate networks and how UK networking acquisitions could benefit HP customers.

What are the top UK networking industry trends you see?

Bonnett: There’s one overriding trend: Mobile [telecommunications service] providers are talking about rolling out thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots to offload an avalanche of data from their radio networks. This is driven by the overall trend in computing, which is mobility. The Wi-Fi hotspots will take the data off the fixed radio networks as fast as possible. It’s a question of having a cheaper way of proliferating access points. Wi-Fi hotspots are much easier to install than a 200-foot tower.

From a networking infrastructure point of view, people are waking up to the idea that there are alternatives in the marketplace. There’s been a lot of consolidation, which in turn has created a lot of competition and more choice for buyers. Hopefully we’ll see better performance for them as well.

In terms of enterprise mobility, we are hearing about wireless moving to the edge of the network. What does that mean?

Bonnett: In a corporate environment it means that the endpoints are wireless as opposed to wired and that you’re giving connectivity in a different way than an Ethernet plug. You have hotspots in your buildings or wherever your employees are. Previously, we tended to have Ethernet wire at your desk. People would go into a meeting room and fight over the connections. Now what we’re looking at is having a small hub in the room. Obviously, there are still a lot of fixed workers who have a desktop and don’t particularly need that mobility. But what we’re seeing is that more and more people tend to be mobile. They come into the office with a laptop and they need that connectivity. The idea is to have a flexible work environment where people can work where they want to without being constrained by the network.

The proliferation of wireless endpoints seems like just the trend needed to encourage companies to consider a unified wired and wireless (UWW) network architecture. Do you see UWW gaining a foothold as a result of wireless moving to the network edge?

Bonnett: I would say that businesses are turning to unified wired and wireless solutions due to the proliferation and increased speed of access points and the difficulty of managing multiple software suites. UWW solutions enable a holistic approach to managing an organisation’s network infrastructure, and promise to reduce the time and effort required for network diagnostics, troubleshooting and day-to-day network management and maintenance tasks.

Also, users are now demanding exactly the same experience and access rights regardless of what media they are logging in over. Unifying wired and wireless simplifies this process significantly, and using tools such as HP Networking’s Identity Driven Manager allows management of this process from a single console. Unifying (also converging) the network provides greater control for IT managers and increased capabilities for end users; for example, by simplifying the process of setting up and managing virtual LANs and VSCs [Virtual Service Communities] (for an IT manager) or fast roaming on VoIP Wi-Fi enabled smartphones (for end users).

HP Networking provides a UWW solution designed to address the needs of businesses today. It includes a broad line of LAN core switches, LAN edge switches, WAN switches, and wireless LAN and the new S-Series (TippingPoint) network security devices. By bringing management tasks together under a unified network management software suite (IMC), HP Networking gives businesses the capability to easily and seamlessly manage their entire wired and wireless networks from a single, central console.

How have networking industry acquisitions enabled HP to better participate in these UK networking industry trends?

Bonnett: The acquisition of Colubris brought us a wireless portfolio that we’ve been developing, and that’s the portfolio we’re using to address the wireless trend.

The 3Com acquisition gave us a full range of Ethernet switching architectures such that we can go from the edge to the largest switches in the data center. We’ve brought in a portfolio that allows us to go head-to-head, toe-to-toe with whoever is in the marketplace.

Wherever there is a monopoly there is an opportunity to give people choice, and we’re finding that’s what people want -- a choice. In addition, we’re giving people a lower total cost of ownership, which is up to half. So we’re looking at saving people a lot of money.

Looking at the broader HP portfolio, we have a concept for converged infrastructure. In addition to routers and switches, we have servers and storage. This takes away the risk of integration and ensures high availability. When people are looking at complex installations, such as server virtualization, we can provide a solution that is not only highly efficient, but highly resilient and takes away the risk.

--Crystal Bedell is an award-winning writer and editor specializing in technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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