With the ever growing adoption of mobility (i.e. smartphones, tablets etc.) and the desire for people to be connected to the internet regardless of their location (at home, at school or work etc.) Wi-Fi has quickly become the favorite type of network connection. Although wireless wide area networks such as 3G or 4G are now available in most urban areas, Wi-Fi is still preferred in most cases due to wide support of all sort of devices and the fact that you can get free connection now in most public places, including bars/restaurants, airports, hotels, city centers, stadium etc. More importantly, most people now enjoy Wi-Fi at home and expect the same experience when they travel, leisure, work etc. It's fair to say that Wi-Fi has grown from being a niche technology used by companies in warehouses and other business environments to a commodity technology (available to almost everyone).
So if Wi-Fi has now become commodity, does this mean that the same Wi-Fi technology that we use at home can be used in business environments as well? Not exactly. Even though we have standards for Wi-Fi products, which guarantee that an Access Point from vendor X works with a tablet from vendor Y, there are some important differences between products that are designed for personal use (or SOHO, Small Office / Home Office) and Enterprise Class solutions. While most people can imagine that a Wi-Fi network in a large hospital, university or retailer with hundreds of stores will have other requirements than the Wi-Fi you have at home, the differences may be less obvious for a Small or Medium Business (SMB). Especially when looking at the price of your little home router or AP, it may look attractive to buy the same products for your business. After all, it works at home, so why wouldn't it work at the office. Good question. Well, the answer is that at work (regardless the size of your business) you probably need an Enterprise Class solution. “So then tell me what 'Enterprise Class' means”, I hear you think. Basically it means that the solution is 'fit' for use in a professional business environment which then means it has specific features and options which supports your business better than a home or SOHO product. Let's take a look at some of these specific features and options.
- Support for mobility: