A wireless local-area network (WLAN) provides all the features and benefits of traditional LAN technologies such as Ethernet and Token Ring without the limitations of wires or cables. But to view a WLAN just in terms of the cables it does not have is to miss the point: WLANs redefine the way we view LANs. Connectivity no longer implies attachment. Local areas are measured not in feet or meters, but miles or kilometers. An infrastructure need not be buried in the ground or hidden behind the walls-an "infrastructure" can move and change at the speed of your business.
The benefits of WLAN infrastructure can apply to any vertical market, but the benefit of deploying it as the primary access network varies by industry. The added mobility and security functionalities for bring your own device (BYOD) and consumer-oriented devices are ideal for enterprises that have large numbers of knowledge workers. This includes most verticals, but mobile security for health care, finance and education are representative of the type of industries that have the most to gain from using a business WLAN as their primary access technology. More generally, enterprises with extensive mobility strategies and projects are likely to reap the benefits of WLAN. On the other hand, a manufacturing company that operates mostly factories rather than offices may not benefit much from investing in a WLAN infrastructure.
The benefits of WLAN as a primary approach to connectivity include the following:
1. Ubiquitous access. Wireless supports both stationary and growing mobile workforces, as well as mobile devices and the new generation of apps they bring in. 2. Cost reduction. Instead of running two networks in parallel, companies with sufficient WLAN infrastructure can install, maintain and operate just one. This benefit is most obvious in new locations -- which don't need to be wired for end-user access at all -- as well as in locations with an old wiring plant where the cost of updating it would be highest. 3. Highly scalable network architecture. Decentralized architectures -- which put the intelligence for all features in each access point (AP) and sometimes can be managed via Software as a Service (SaaS) -- scale easily. Each AP adds the same capability and capacity to the network automatically, without diminishing returns or additive configuration burdens.