Every innovation in networking has had one main goal – to better connect users with applications. In the past 30 years the way people use applications has changed profoundly, initially with the arrival of the personal computer and now with the mobilisation of communication, information access and cloud applications.
Organisations have been built around connecting users to applications on the PC. Mobility is changing everything, from infrastructure to application to devices. Legacy architectures based on Ethernet switching at the network edge are on end-of-life notice.
Users have embraced mobile modes of operation and it is now up to IT to optimise for mobility and drive its direction to achieve performance goals. Thirty years ago, users drove productivity through terminals connected to mainframe applications. These networks were built as a single, “flat”, bridged architecture that carried IBM SNA (Systems Network Architecture, IBM’s mainframe network standard) traffic from the user to the mainframe.
The PC revolutionised the user-operating model and IT faced significant adjustments in connecting users to applications instead of mainframe hardware.
The evolution continued with early wireless local area networks, usually deployed as a convenience to employees and corporate visitors. Legacy WLAN architectures built on microcellular wi-fi access points were designed to connect laptops to the network. Wireless notebooks are simply wireless devices connected to the network. Users still sit at a desk or in a conference room and work the same way they would on a wired network.
True mobility is more than just wirelessly connected devices. Mobility lets users move while they work and communicate, which completely changes how users connect to applications.
Today’s mobile devices are being joined in the enterprise by devices that are not limited to interaction and direction from human users – they conduct machine-to-machine communication over the wi-fi network. These devices are optimised for conducting business while in motion and delivering a superior user experience.
IT is expected to adapt to the new user experience and optimise the network for mobility.