IT Managers have to Gear Up for the Wi-Fi Revolution: Sudarshan Boosupalli

Sudarshan Boosupalli, Director - India & SAARC, Ruckus Wireless, believes IT has to ensure seamless end user experience in the new age network.

How does IT keep up pace of growing Wi-Fi demands, such as provisioning new access points (APs), setting up guest networks and enabling Wi-Fi facilities near and far? 

Wi-Fi today has become a critical infrastructure in all environments. It goes without saying that we all rely on Wi-Fi from the time we start our day. From businesses both small and large to governments and smart cities, Wi-Fi is ensuring the operations runs smoothly without any disruption.  

Today’s networks however are reaching a breaking point with exponential growth in video, voice, social media and data. The role of IT is to ensure that the end-user experience is flawless. The network must be built to meet the minimum experience requirements of every end user, all the time.

Take an example of a university classroom where there are 120 students simultaneously streaming videos. Can the network deliver a stall-free experience for all clients at the same time? This is easier said than done. 

It is important to consider and plan for the growth of the network when designing and selecting a network infrastructure. 

On the other hand, “Lean” IT is the new normal in businesses everywhere, regardless of size. IT professionals are increasingly expected to do more with less—and do it faster. Managing the company’s wireless LAN infrastructure is one of them.

Organizations with smaller wireless environments with lean IT don’t require advanced WLAN management skills. Common workloads—like creating guest networks—can be supported by a step-by-step wizard guided process. Administrators can just use the default settings or customize network configurations to optimize RF resources. This includes rate limiting at the SSID, AP or client level, setting a maximum number of clients connected to a single AP, and manual channel selection.

As regards enterprises looking into “Lean” IT for their businesses, what is the role of Wi-Fi with Lean IT to manage the network? 

Wi-Fi is a critical need in every industry from large enterprises to the small and the unorganized business in India. It plays a vital role in the daily operations of these businesses. As an example, today I see how pervasive small organizations are using WhatsApp to make calls with their customers outside of India all on the back of a Wi-Fi Network.

However, most enterprise today is facing a huge challenge in terms of the Quality of Experience. The traffic on the network has grown exponentially with voice, video or data, and the continuation of legacy networks is holding them back.

There is an urgent need to modernize the infrastructure at the edge of the network. How do you design a network to be lean, and scale as it grows quickly in time for market? Take an example of opening a new branch. How quickly can Wi-Fi be up and running? This is the first challenge to address.

The second area is IT resources. Not all businesses are staffed the same. Many small organizations lack dedicated and full time IT staff. Larger organizations are looking to go lean with fewer IT staff so that they can focus on managing the core business. And lastly organizations with large branch office networks very often have remote IT or lean IT staff to manage these branches.

Thus it is important for an organization to design the right Wi-Fi environment keeping in mind, the quality of experience, scale, growth, cost and resources. Ruckus enables organizations of all sizes to be able to build the high performance networks that can scale as the business grows. Ruckus Unleashed for instance allows small organizations to configure Wi-Fi networks in 60 seconds without any trained IT staff while managing this through a simple intuitive mobile application easy enough for anyone to operate. 

On the other hand, Ruckus also offers traditional on-premise controller and management based solutions for established organizations with trained IT resources. And lastly virtual and cloud-managed controller-based solutions from Ruckus allow for rapid rollout in branches or for large complex or multi-national organizations with remote IT staff. These remote or Lean IT staff can view, monitor, manage and provision an organization’s infrastructure located anywhere in the world through a single pane of glass. 

Most importantly an organization can start small with Ruckus Unleashed, migrate the same network infrastructure to an On-premise or Virtual controller environment without a major overall haul of the network, giving the customer ultimate flexibility in scaling as they grow. 

Reports state that global IP video traffic is expected to grow threefold from 2016 to 2021. Much of this video will be transmitted over Wi-Fi. What is the IT manager Wi-fi checklist?

Video has become a common way to consume learning content, with many users preferring it over more traditional, written material— be it instruction manuals, classrooms, or corporate meeting. In the enterprise, wireless video conferencing is an everyday occurrence thanks to the popularity of tools such as Skype. Video extends to other use cases as well, such as surveillance.

The Indian IT managers need to recognize their Wi-Fi network has to be ready with the key components. Video and voice are critical applications that require a high quality of experience (QoE). It is essential to ensure end-users are able to easily and reliably connect and use Wi-Fi for data, voice, and video needs

Secondly, IT organizations need to scale network performance beyond simple data throughput in a way that is easy to implement without requiring days or weeks of fine tuning and troubleshooting. Next, voice and video demands on the wireless network will only increase for the foreseeable future.

It is important for the IT manager to observe how many stall-free video streams their Wi-Fi Access Points could deliver under stress.

Smart cities will leverage technologies from Internet of Things (IoT), where ‘things’ are built around various types of sensors and connected to the Internet through connectivity options including Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), LORA and others. What precisely is the role of Wi-Fi in a Smart City?

There has been a lot of discussion around smart cities because technology promises to address many of the challenges cities face today. City leaders are embracing the concept of smart cities because it promises to deliver a new way of living through innovative technologies, solving some of their biggest challenges from transportation to waste management, streetlights and much more. 

Wi-Fi is a core building block in any smart city, providing connectivity to both users as well as the vast IT infrastructure of a connected smart city. Sub systems such as video surveillance, public address systems and many others rely on Wi-Fi.  In addition, it provides insights into data and location providing richer analytics for governments and users. 

IoT is complimentary to Wi-Fi. Each of the mentioned technologies have their own unique use cases for different types of environments. No one protocol is the standard for IoT today. However, with more IoT devices being adopted there are two key challenges to address the on-boarding and management of these headless devices as well as the connectivity environment for these devices. 

Wi-Fi infrastructure will become a central point in providing an environment to host this infrastructure in the near future and technologies such as Cloudpath that Ruckus provides today will solve the on-boarding and management challenge for headless IoT devices.