Success with Private 5G and Wi-Fi Requires Unified Management

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala, Author at eWEEK.

Ninety percent of enterprises want unified Wi-Fi and private 4G/5G with a cohesive management experience.

Enterprises face many challenges, including too many systems and management dashboards to check. On the network side, those problems are compounded by an array of technologies needed to bind the organization together—including separate wired, Wi-Fi, and private 4G/5G networks.

In fact, more than 85% of enterprises ZK Research surveyed said they have separate deployments or plans for all of those technologies. The survey, sponsored by CommScope, included 402 North American enterprises and was fielded and analyzed by ZK Research.

For cellular and Wi-Fi, it’s an “and” world

There is tremendous industry chatter surrounding private 4G/5G cellular and Wi-Fi. One can find articles claiming cellular services will eventually kill Wi-Fi and others saying the opposite.

The reality is that customers want both, according to our survey. Wi-Fi is ubiquitous but, in some cases, cellular is the better option because of its broad coverage. Industries that cover a wide geographic area, that value mobility or that can’t put up with latency, will likely opt for cellular.

Many businesses will use Wi-Fi and cellular because, although the technologies seem competitive, they are highly complementary. Wi-Fi is an excellent technology for ad hoc wireless to connect laptops, mobile phones, and other user devices. Cellular 4G/5G is ideal where resilient connectivity is required.

Enterprises are paying the price for “too much to manage”

The multiple technologies themselves are enough to induce stress with even the most seasoned network professionals as they need to worry about management, security, and QoS systems.

Seventy percent of the enterprises we surveyed say they’re running 2+ management systems, 2+ security systems, and 2+ QoS systems for each wired, Wi-Fi, and private 4G/5G network. Thirty-four percent say they use more than three, and 12 percent use 4+.

In addition, enterprises say their network operations staff wastes 17% of their time and 19% of their budget running separate access networks.

There’s simply too much to manage, troubleshoot, and secure—even as the stakes have never been higher. It’s no surprise that enterprises are looking to simplify. They just want to run their businesses. Yet even though this is a pressing need, enterprises haven’t addressed it internally. Neither have the large system vendors.

Bottom Line: Nine in 10 enterprises want a converged multi-access wireless network

The cries for help from within enterprises couldn’t be clearer. Almost 9 in 10 enterprises think that a converged multi-access wireless network would benefit their organization.

Enterprises across public venues, manufacturing, and transportation are nearly unanimous in saying such an approach would be superior to running separate networks.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.