Apple’s newest iPad has some new elements that could make it a (bigger) hit in the enterprise, such as higher resolution screen for video conferencing and presentations, as well as taking dictation. But it has become increasingly clear to corporations that their networks can’t handle the iPad or, really, most of the devices employees are bringing into their walls.
We’ve done a lot of coverage on how iPads have made inroads into the enterprise, with 64 percent of mobile workers now carrying a tablet, rising to nearly 80 percent within the next six months according the Mobile Workforce Report (you can see the iPad breakdown below). In general, the number of mobile devices coming into corporate networks has grown to 3.5 devices, up from 2.7 in 2011 according to the same report, which was released earlier this week.
So many devices, such a static network.
But the problem with iPads and mobile devices in general is that they move, and so your network resources have to move too. Or at least adapt to ensure that when someone has an impromptu meeting by the water cooler, there is enough network capacity to serve those devices. Before, when people computed and connected from their desks, it was much easier to predict where the network needed to have the most capacity.
Much like the networking trends happening inside the data center or out on the cellular networks, where scale and flexibility are becoming essential ingredients, the networks inside companies are due for their own tune up, driven in part by devices like the iPad. As our computing has become more mobile and varies depending on the device, the once-staid world of networking has had to adapt — everywhere. The best explanation so far of this trend comes from Pradeep Sindhu, director, vice chairman of the board and CTO of Juniper. In an interview with Om last year, Sindhu said:
The nature of traffic today is increasingly dynamic. And so the old ways of addressing and building networks, with very statically provisioned technologies, like circuit switching, is essentially dead. So you have to rethink this architecturally. Point number two is that I believe that the traffic is going to get a lot more stochastic in nature. In other words, unpredictable, both with respect to any given circuit and with respect to the sources and destination the amount of usage will continue to explode and they will get more and more dynamic and unpredictable.
Companies also have to figure out how to revamp their corporate device policies to ensure data is kept secure. Aruba, a wireless equipment firm, offers this slide to explain all the considerations an enterprise must think about.
The iPad and the big enterprise networking shift.
So as the new iPad launches with better screens and better video conferencing and presentation capabilities, those responsible for corporate networks are a wee bit concerned. Depending on who you ask, some are very concerned. Brocade, which on Tuesday launched a series of products that makes corporate networks programmable and flexible, polled 120 IT managers and found that about half are worried in some way about the coming iPad.
And even if the iPad isn’t mentioned by name, the trend of bringing in consumer devices to the network is leading to opportunities not just for firms making tablets such as Apple, but also those on the backend charged with building and securing corporate networks. Companies like Brocade, Aruba, Ciscoand others are watching today’s launch and hoping it drives a few more CIOs to ring up their salesmen.