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Friday, March 18, 2011

New Demand for Enterprise Wireless Access Points

As people increasingly demand more flexible workplace environments, enterprise IT departments are being pressured to incorporate Wi-Fi wireless access and functionality into their set of network features. According to the latest market study by In-Stat, this trend will lead to an increase in demand for wireless access points (WAPs).

"Out of this opportunity, comes stiff competition. Industry giants such as Cisco are facing increasing pressure from smaller companies that focus wholly on the WLAN," says Brad Shaffer, Research Analyst at In-Stat.

Companies like Meru Networks are already taking small bites out of the traditional industry leader portion of the pie. Meru has seen notable growth in WAP shipments and installed customer base. According to a recent press release, in the fourth quarter of 2010 Meru's installed base increased nearly 50 percent year-over-year.

In-Stat estimates Meru Networks experienced a 19 percent increase in their WAP market share in 2010. With strong appeal in the education and healthcare verticals, it looks likely that Meru will gain further momentum.

New innovations are changing the entire architecture of a WAP deployment. Companies like AeroHive and Meraki Networks are giving access points enhanced hardware features and also moving the controller to the cloud to make network management more seamless.

While it is unknown how network administrators will respond to this change, the management of security and feature updates by vendors clearly benefit. Pressured by competition and new entrants in the WAP marketplace, companies like Cisco are adding new features to their product lines.

Cisco recently released a security upgrade for their 802.11n WAP, addressing PCI 2.0 compliance and reporting needs for their current customers. While Cisco may have temporarily addressed the competition with this feature update, pressure from other vendors will grow to levels not seen before.

In-Stat estimates WAPs have outpaced the Wi-Fi networking equipment market as a whole. WAP revenue increased over 30 percent year-over-year, compared to 19 percent for the overall WLAN market.

While this is robust growth in comparison, it is still unclear whether or not the enterprise market will fully embrace WLAN.