In 2012, we continued to see the increasingly growing adoption of smartphones and tablets within the enterprise. According to a recent report from Juniper Research, the number of employee owned smartphones and tablets in the workplace is set to increase to 350 million by 2014, up from 150 million this year.

Wireless access has become critical for businesses and 2012 has experienced several technological advancements, including the development of 3×3 MIMO Access Points (APs) and the advent of the 802.11ac standard. What will be the impact of these and further industry developments in 2013?

Policing BYOD

BYOD is creating headaches for network managers in terms of what Wi-Fi infrastructure to deploy and what user policies to implement to support the growing number of devices, and applications, that want to take advantage of it. In 2013, mobile device management solutions will evolve to include location and file control.

This will enable businesses to control access to the wireless network and sensitive information based on location and authorisation. These added security features will ensure that end users cannot access the network, or specific files, without the right permission. Application control will also become pivotal in 2013, as end-users are often downloading apps from email links or app stores that could potentially contain malware.

802.11ac: will it live up to the hype?

802.11n drastically improved capacity and reliability, which enabled the use of a number of new Wi-Fi applications. 802.11ac will continue to drive this trend, encouraging the preference for wireless over wired connections in a corporate network environment. It will also enable another surge in the growth of the WLAN.

802.11ac will start making its way into Enterprise Wi-Fi products in early 2013. It’s already being flaunted as Gigabit Wi-Fi. What businesses should expect to see next year, as 802.11ac technology is rolled out, is the availability of more 5GHz capable devices as 802.11ac only supports the capacity-rich 5GHz spectrum.

2013 marks the end of the physical controller?

Controllers are here to stay especially in high-density deployments where performance and advanced features matter. The development of ‘controller-less WLAN solutions’ will continue in 2013. These hosted and scalable solutions are effective for businesses, or organisations, based on different sites spread over geographic locations, such as retail outlets. They can be configured to manage any number of APs for small or distributed deployments. Cloud-based solutions are, and will continue, to be a growing, attractive prospect for the enterprise, but how much they replace the traditional physical controller altogether remains to be seen.