March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 04.01.05

Turning Your Team Into a Mobile Powerhouse?

The new truly wireless office.
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By Tony Rizzo




Our mobile research at The 451 Group clearly indicates that over the next 18 months or so we are going to see a
substantial shift away from wireline-connected desktops to truly mobile wireless laptops. This is good news for Intel, of course, which wants to see those mobile-optimized, Centrino-based 802.11g laptops fly off store shelves. But as these laptops begin to penetrate the enterprise—more specifically, as they begin to permeate the offices of Mobile Enterprise readers—we need to ask the question: Is there a game plan in place to do more with those laptops than have them merely sit on a desk with a wire attached? Perhaps something more ambitious and useful than arranging for a dial-up connection?

We hope the answer is yes. But what is the best way to make that laptop fully mobile-enabled, and not just for Wi-Fi but for roaming across multiple wireless networks as well—such as Verizon’s 3G EV-DO network? Further, what is necessary to insure that a mobile user can log into a network once and seamlessly maintain that connection while moving in and out of coverage areas (possibly losing the connection) or across low and high bandwidth environments? And what needs to take place to insure the data that goes back and forth between that laptop and the back-office is securely encrypted and compressed during transmission?

The answer is not to take a trip to the IT department and hope that someone there will schedule an appointment a month down the road to “discuss it.” The answer is to grab the phone and call one of the mobile VPN players that are now becoming important members of the wireless networking community. Ecutel, Padcom, Columbitech, NetMotion Wireless, ipUnplugged and (if you happen to live in Oslo) Birdstep Technology, are all companies ready to help you create a true mobile environment for your team, your division or any number of users. These companies are all at the forefront of the new way of doing business—one that no longer requires that Ethernet cable.

If you happen to live in one of Verizon’s 30 EV-DO cities, all the better. EV-DO, as you might already know, is a next-generation (true 3G) wireless technology that can deliver data in bursts of more than 1 Mbps, with average throughput in the 350 Kbps range—easily enough bandwidth to supplant the home cable or DSL connection. That in itself is worth the price of admission.

But wait—behind door number two is yet another option. Most of these mobile VPN vendors also support network policy management, meaning that every laptop can be configured to behave differently depending on the variables. For example, if a user is roaming through an old and slow CDMA area, the mobile VPN can be instructed not to allow downloads then. Conversely, when a user passes through a Wi-Fi hotspot, the mobile VPN will auto detect the change in available bandwidth and move lots of data as fast as possible.

I’m tempted to say: But of course there is more to it than that—lots of complexity, lots of setup, lots of testing required and lots of IT help required. I’m tempted to say that, but I’d be lying. Check them out—your team will thank you.
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