My first thought, as I started speaking to the audience at the Security Forum in New York a few weeks ago, was that this is going to be a tough crowd. The topic was “Securing the Wireless Workforce,” and from comments and body language, I could tell that these folks (members of the Technology Managers Forum) had real doubts about “wireless” and “security” even being mentioned in the same breath.
But they softened up as the session went on, and came to accept one of the key points they were concerned about: that wireless, though fundamentally different from traditional wired access, is ready for businesses to use. The main challenge was the thought that wireless was somehow inherently insecure. There is a widely held belief out there … really, a serious misconception … that if something isn’t wired, it’s just begging for anyone to come along and listen in. My counterpoint to that is just the opposite; in many ways, wireless is inherently secure.
Of course, you don’t just put an otherwise secure wireless WAN in place and consider the job done. Obviously, you need to field a strong defense and extend your security solutions all the way across both the LAN and the WAN. You have to look to encryption, to standards compliance, to the data services expertise needed to pull all of these elements together.
From the questions at the end … and the fact that nobody in the audience threw anything at me … it seemed that they understood that wireless is a legitimate solution for their communications portfolio, even when security is one of your highest priorities. And for many of these companies, particularly in the New York area, it is. The Technology Managers Forum is for people in IT management positions at companies with revenue of $50 million or more. The important thing for them and everyone else to realize is that they can utilize wireless effectively to advance enterprise performance while maintaining strict security and compliance.
By the way, the venue was a great one. The Bridgewaters at South Street Seaport offered an inspiring view not only of the New York City skyline, but of the Brooklyn Bridge. Thinking about that bridge, I saw parallels to the technological landscape today. There may not seem to be a lot in common between an 1883 bridge and 4G wireless or Unified Communications, but the motivation was the same, providing a better solution to a specific need.
If they hadn’t built it, maybe they’d still be taking ferries across the East River today. But Manhattan and Brooklyn are both better off because farsighted people saw the need, applied the best technology available at the time … with a great design, by the way … and overcame the challenges in financing and especially construction. Trust me, I’d rather be building wireless networks than working underwater putting bridge pilings in place.
I suppose the counter-argument is that the bridge is legacy infrastructure (after nearly 130 years, it could certainly qualify) … but until we figure out a way to fly all those people back and forth by personal jetpack, it’s as advanced as we get.