Nevertheless, we’re seeing progress. Prevalent use of network-level authentication standards 802.1x and EAP (Extensible Authentication Protocol) got a major boost from companies rolling out these technologies for Wi-Fi access. When a 802.1x/EAP framework is in place on the WLAN, extending its reach to every corner of the wired network becomes that much easier.
That’s not to say that deploying wireless networks is simple. Despite the challenges, however, more planned and sanctioned corporate WLANs turned up in 2004 than any other year, and vendors have been scurrying to meet the management demand. The kinks are still being worked out, and despite the fact that no solid standard for WLAN deployment and management yet exists, there’s always hope for 2005.
Overall, 2004 brought management tools -- and their limitations -- to the forefront. IT directors saw HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley written on the wall and realized that the budget needed to account for ways to prove compliance. Centralized control of every aspect of the network -- from the configuration and monitoring of devices to who gets access to what and when -- is the only realistic way to get there, and we know it.