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Vendors need to concentrate on wireless reliability, not hype

Wireless reliability should be the main goal of WLAN vendors and institutions, one engineer writes. Also, how come networking didn't evolve the same way compute did?

WLAN vendors and industry institutions need to avoid getting lost in a sea of buzzword and marketing hype and remain focused on wireless reliability. So writes blogger and wireless veteran, Lee Badman.

"For those of us that have been in the wireless game for a long time, unfulfilled promises and poor output from certain industry groups are a way of life," he said. "That's not to say that Wi-Fi isn't an utterly amazing, transformative technology. It most certainly is. But just like politicians can make promises that no one blinks at when they stay unfulfilled, many WLAN-related organizations and entities have become known as much for what they don't deliver as for what they do."

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' insistence on making new standards backward-compatible is one area Badman finds frustrating, as does the bewildering amount of mobile clients certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Furthermore, Badman lambastes vendors for using industry buzzwords without having the results to support their claims. "Maybe the vendors can prove they have fixed the cultures that have resulted in their sins of the past before asking us to embrace the latest flavor of the month and the fat fees that come with it," he said.

The advent of 802.11ax will usher in new performance standards and new claims, Badman said. These new products could indeed be as great as promised, or it could just open the door for more wireless reliability problems if the industry doesn't properly prepare.

Read more of what Badman says vendors need to do to ensure wireless reliability.

Finding the next generation of coders

GlobalData analyst Charlotte Dunlap took a look at how vendors are increasing their efforts to bring in new coding talent in her most recent blog.

According to Dunlap, the biggest problem facing the technology industry is the lack of coding talent. In response to this deficit, major application platform vendors have ramped up campaigns to attract new developers and grow developer communities.

The most significant result of this shift was Microsoft's purchase of GitHub for $7.5 billion. Dunlap described GitHub as being among the industry's most powerful programming environments, predicting that Microsoft Azure will be the largest beneficiary of the acquisition.

IBM, meantime, recently announced its new coding campaign, Call for Code, which challenges programmers to create an app to assist in disaster relief. Oracle has been attracting young coders through social media with its Live for the Code and Why I Code campaigns.

These strategies have been yielding impressive results, Dunlap said.

"For their efforts, vendors get access to developers, equip them with tools and solutions to develop advanced apps, and try to make them loyal followers of their cloud platforms."

Read more on what Dunlap had to say about the talent deficit.

Tracing why networking wasn't horizontally integrated

Why did networking evolve the way it did, with routers and switches being vertically integrated? According to Ivan Pepelnjak at IPSpace, it's because "nobody was interested in disaggregating them."

Enterprise networking, unlike compute, didn't have a Microsoft or an Intel making the software and chips that could be used in any box. Networking is more complex and it's a much smaller market than the server market, meaning there weren't any companies willing to make the necessary investment to develop a multivendor approach. And, Pepelnjak said, "high-speed packet forwarding was always a bleeding-edge technology," which posed another barrier to a disaggregated environment.

Finally, Pepelnjak said, "vertical integration is the only way to push things to their maximum capacity." Companies that wrote code or designed systems tailored to the least common denominator ran into problems supporting a multivendor switching environment.

And there is this: the question of support and a single throat to choke. Many companies would prefer to spend more money on an integrated system because they know it's easier to get the service and upgrades they might need.

Read more about why networking developed the way it did.

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