Networking's juggling act

Networking's juggling act

New technologies in the networking sector this year failed to deliver deals en masse to the channel as customers hunkered down and made do with the infrastructure they already had. Looking ahead to 2002, most channel companies are expecting to balance traditional LAN/WAN demands with emerging markets.

One such market, wireless technology, is touted to be a big driver in 2002. But Integrity Data Systems' CEO and managing director, Ross Chiswell, said resellers have to be wary of both new standards and wireless security.

With the long-awaited IEEE 802.11a standard expected to be ratified next year, enabling wireless speeds of 54Mbps, vendors are currently rolling out access products into the market. However, until the standard has been approved, it's not a sure bet and resellers have to be careful not to bank on what could remain proprietary technology. Meanwhile, the IEEE 802.11g standard has been ratified, enabling varying speeds of 11Mbps to 54Mbps.

"Resellers have to be careful of what their vendors are saying, but at the same time be aware of what's happening with standards as you don't want to back the wrong horse," Chiswell said.

Up until now, the limited take-up of wireless technology has been largely a replacement for cables. The concern in 2002, according to Chiswell, is the security of these "pretty simple" devices. Some vendors have committed to designing access points with built-in security features, while the low-end vendors continue down the cable-replacement roadmap.

IP telephony is an area in which low-end vendors are seeing increased sales, according to Dan Langford, internetworking specialist at integrator Sundata. The cost of IP telephony solutions had previously been an inhibitor to Australian companies, which are in general much smaller than their North American counterparts.

The introduction of smaller-scale alternative IP telephony products means customers are willing to invest in what has "been at the back of their minds for a couple of years now", said Langford.

However, Langford points out it isn't the ROI message evangelised by vendors that is driving small and medium companies down the IP telephony path.

"They don't really care about ROI. Customers just want to know that when they pick up their handset it's going to work."

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