There are no sacred cows to someone who believes that consumer devices and self-service IT are the keystones of the new business office world. One of these cows is wired Ethernet in the workplace. It will largely go away soon!
Here is an extreme example: Last August Microsoft announced that they are ditching copper-based Ethernet in 660 campuses in favor of WiFi-only offices over the next 24 months.
“Our users don’t simply use a workstation at a desk to do their jobs anymore. They’re using their phone, their tablet, their laptop and their desktop computer, if they have one,” said Lef in a Q&A published in the Microsoft Azure Blog. “It’s evolved into a devices ecosystem rather than a single productivity device, and most of those devices support wireless. In fact, most of them support only wireless.”
David Lef, principal network architect at Microsoft IT.
Microsoft expects that moving from wired infrastructure to byod-first/wifi-first will reduce their pile of networking equipment by 50%. Of course some of their sites will remain copper-based, e.g. labs, data-centers and other special use offices. But in the end they expect that 90 percent of its end-user network infrastructure will be pushing packets over wireless signals.
The challenges for the IT people are:
- to plan, set up and maintain a huge number of access points
- to make the whole system secure
- to watch the bandwidth and traffic to find bottlenecks early
- to monitor the whole infrastructure for downtimes
Even if this radical approach will not be suitable for most organozations and businesses anytime soon, it shows the direction in which we are all going.
At Paessler we moved into a new office last April and we rolled out a “dual network”: a copper-based and wifi-based network throughout the whole building for our 170 employees. Most of my colleagues are using stationary PCs, but more and more of them are migrating to iPads, MS Surface and MacBooks which use our WiFi network. They use them in meetings, in quite-working rooms, and when they return to their desk, the plug in stationary monitors and keyboard (or use a docking station). And all my colleagues have a smart phone at arms reach all the time, too. They all use our WiFi network.
We even installed an access point in our beer garden where we hold outdoor meetings in the summer (visible at the lower bottom of the photo).
But I’ll write more about our wifi setup in another blog post.
How are you planning your migration to BYOD and wifi-only offices? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
PS: If you like how we think about IT and networks, check out our software PRTG Network Monitor which monitors uptime, usage and performance of networks.