Jul 01 2006

More than Mediocre—The Development of Wireless

Mediocrity is annoying. You won’t get much debate about that from me. And in the early days of wireless, mediocre coverage was all you could hope for. Constant availability was a myth, and dropped packets the norm.

But a lot has changed. For the most part, commercial-grade wireless is affordable and reliable, even if rolling it out isn’t always painless. Security is still the problem that the information technology shop can tackle through products and practice. About 70 percent of our readers who have wireless at their businesses say end-to-end security is their biggest concern — meaning they’ve tackled it for now but are keeping close tabs on any Internet Protocol addresses that try to sniff their networks.

In Business-Class Connections, Jeremy Dotson explains why security and reliability concerns have pushed his company from using Wired Equivalent Protocol-based consumer products to using commercial-grade, based on the Wi-Fi Protected Access standard. The LAN administrator for airline equipment maker Tronair discovered that the company’s wireless network crashed during the lunch hour because the power output on the consumer access points couldn’t compete against two employees nuking leftover pizza and Lean Cuisine at the same time. As the business grew and evolved — which included putting a wireless network into its manufacturing plant — its approach to IT needed to mature as well.

As Jason Holbert points out in his review of DameWare’s remote management tools, “out-of-the-box functionality” is a phrase that’s easy to dismiss. (Other phrases that you’re better off being skeptical of include “36 easy payments” and “Your call is very important to us.”) But Holbert believes he’s found a technology tool in DameWare that’s actually designed for IT practitioners, as opposed to the software engineers who designed them. According to Holbert, a help-desk support technician at Harcos Chemicals, DameWare delivers without having to invest a fortune in systems requirement upgrades and 90-minute calls to tech support. Check out his review on page 20, especially if you’re part of the 19 percent of BizTech readers who told us that they must schlep to their end users’ PCs to troubleshoot problems.

For the 95 percent of BizTech readers with Web sites, it’s time to consider search engine optimization (SEO). Whether your company’s site is mediocre or spectacular, you’ll want to make it easy for customers and partners to find it during Web searches. Still, only one-third of readers say that SEO is on their radar. Dan Skeen offers several actionable site tweaks that your IT team can implement to ensure that your company gets noticed — without spending a penny. Sure, you can pay for rankings on Google or Yahoo, but if you’re interested in effective free options, click here.

When you flip through our pages, I hope you’ll notice a growing trend and a strategic shift that we’ve made. Many of our writers work in IT — every day — just like you. We’re not talking about hobbyists, so-called experts at market research firms, but real live, IT citizens who get paid to make technology work.

If you have a tech problem that you’ve used IT to solve for your company — locating unexpected savings, improving customer service or delivering faster inventory turnaround — I hope you’ll tell us about it.

Lee Copeland

Editor in Chief

Has your company implemented a wireless network at your location?
No 38% (126) - Yes 62% (208)

Consumer products now, but we’re switching to commercial products 4%
We’re evaluating wireless access point options 6%
We use a mix of both commercial- and consumer-grade products 19%
Consumer products are fine for our needs 21%
We use only commercial-grade products 21%
Neither; we are not wireless 29%
Source: CDW survey of 334 BizTech readers  
Welton Doby III