Lippis Report Issue 72: Mobile Networking: Its Time Has Come

Mobile wireless technologies are enhancing personal and professional lives. Let me give you a hard example. Someone in my family was recently hospitalized. For anyone this is a traumatic event filled with fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, hope, compassion and love. In between these emotions I started to notice how the hospital staff, patients and parents were connected. Yes, there were lots of direct face-to-face communications with hospital staff. But the loudspeaker paging systems that used to broadcast the usual ?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ?√¨Calling Dr. —— ?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ?√¨ have been replaced with a hospital staff equipped with mobile end-points reducing overhead noise and increasing communications as one-on-one connections replace broadcasts. For patients and parents, WLANs permeated this facility, allowing them internet access for communication with remote family members, checking e-mail, keeping colleagues and clients informed, researching medical journals or even allowing the patient to play a game of internet checkers with a remote family member. Mobile phones served the purpose to keep family members connected while traveling to and from the hospital and provide status and updates. It´s this kind of professional and personal value that mobile networking is adding to every industry sector. Mobile networking and communications value is huge.

Avaya Special Developers Series

A Mobile World

While the mobile industry started with cellular technology providing person-to-person voice communications, the current evolution is based upon access to data applications and back-end enterprise systems for mobile end-points. Some industry personalities talk about Fixed-to-Mobile convergence, but I think its far greater then a convergence. The shift toward mobility is a replacement from the fixed end-point world of today.

Research in Motion (RIM)The industry is quickly moving beyond simple services that link mobile and fixed end-points such as ringing your mobile end-point while you are away from your desktop. During November, Avaya purchased Traverse and Cisco purchased Orative to connect their enterprise- based IP telephony features and functions with mobile end-points such as calendar synchronization, presence and other enterprise services. The barriers for mobile devices to access enterprise data will be eliminated over time as wireless and wired access technologies become unified. The trend line that is developing for mobile networking is nothing short of huge. By 2010 50% of internet services will be accessed by mobile end-points. Here are a few important data points that I follow and would like to share with you here:

Aruba NetworksDesktop PC shipment growth will be flat at about 150 million per year out into 2010. At the same time laptop shipments will continue to grow, reaching some 180 million in 2010. Note that laptop shipments have already out paced desktops. The super-high growth is in smartphones, with nearly 300 million shipping in 2010 up from approximately 80 million today. If you layer the hyper-growth of RFID tags into these dynamics, then the number of internet end-points may very well hit one trillion in 2010 up from over a billion today. Note that over 56.5 million high-frequency RFID tag ICs were shipped in 2005 and the market is growing at some 400% CAGR. The bottom line, mobile end-points will be the preferred access method for most people and devices on the planet over the next 5 years.

Colubris NetworksClearly the communications end-point is changing towards a mobile device. So what does that mean for the mix of IP phones, softphones and smartphones? Here is some insight into one of my client´s end-point transitions. Over the next 4 years this client will transition its current 150K end-points to the following make up: smartphones will grow from 1K to 60K; office fixed IP phones will transition from 1K to 35K; all employees will have softphones on laptops; the typical employee will have a smartphone and softphone with less than 40% equipped with office IP phones; the total number of end-points will decline from 150K to 110K while the number of employees remains constant at 100K. In short say good by to fixed analog, digital and even IP phones.

Meru NetworksOne key driver for this change towards mobile end-points is economics. This same client has seen a decline in wire line use of 15% volume and unit cost per year. They see their wireless minute consumption growing at approximately 28% CAGR across multiple mobile providers. The unit cost of mobile vs. wire line is much more favorable to mobile driving wireless minute usage growth way up.

Wither the Mobile Provider?

Mobile service provider pricing, IP end-point devices and high speed wireless technologies are all fueling the mobile world. The mobile industry will be re-structured over the next several years. High powered smartphones with skype, Google talk, et al., softphones with high speed internet access, pose a threat to mobile providers as customers are equipped with an alternative method of voice communications which bypass their mobile wireless plans. Already some smartphones come with skype client software installed allowing consumers to make calls to other skype users for free on mobile devices. As this method improves mobile providers will be hard at work thinking of ways to either block or add value to this feature set. The risk is nothing short of changing the business model for how mobile providers generate revenues and stay in business.

The Corridor Warrior

The boom in mobile networking is primarily due to changes in business. During the last recession businesses pushed decision making down into organizations closer to customers. This transition fostered the real need for mobile businesses. Not only are sales employees the mobile staff, but everyone is now mobile or requires mobile connectivity with access to enterprise e-mail and data.

The hospital example mentioned above is but one example of the new ?¢‚Ǩ?ìCorridor Warrior". Many professionals are mobile within their campus, building, etc., and benefit from a streamlined smartphone with WLAN plus GSM dual mode networking providing access to enterprise resources independent of network connection. For those on the go all day, carrying a laptop as their primary communications tool is too cumbersome. The Corridor Warrior fits many work profiles such as knowledge workers who manage their days by transitioning between conference rooms with little time spent in their offices. The doctors, nurses and hospital staff benefit tremendously by being equipped with a light weight mobile device that allows them to stay in touch via voice or e-mail, plus being able to access patient data. Corridor warrior hospital staff increases the care they provide, reduces mistakes and communication errors which account for nearly 100K preventable hospital deaths per year.

Enterprise Network Architecture Plan

As an IT business decision maker you need a comprehensive mobile networking and communications plan that includes the following:

  • Annual service contract with one or two mobile providers
  • WLAN plan that incorporates new technologies such as 802.1n and is tightly integrated into wired Ethernet control and service points
  • An IP telephony architecture that supports mobility as a key attribute allowing features and functions to be seamlessly supported across fixed and mobile platforms
  • An end-point transition plan that outlines fixed, smartphones and softphone end-points over a period of time
  • A smartphone requirements statement and implementation plan
  • An application development environment plan that serves up enterprise data to mobile end-points
  • A network access control plan that protects IT resources from a wide range of access methods

And of course all of the above needs to be defined through the filter of business requirements. But that shouldn´t be too hard as I´m sure most of your business unit´s requirements are way ahead of your mobile networking and communication plans.

Enterprise mobility is all about productivity and work product quality. Just think how much more productive health care providers will be when all of their instrumentation is connected to a network where doctors can access patient vital signs, medical history, medications, etc., right on their smartphones while talking with patients and parents. The quality of the care will increase and so too will patient and parent comfort that the doctors have all the right information to make the right decision.

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