The 2006 Webtorials "WLAN State-of-the-Market" report is hot off the virtual press, and it reveals a slew of trends and even a few surprises.

The report, authored by yours truly, is the third annual Webtorials-report based on end-user research about WLAN deployments, attitudes, and experiences. It compiles results of a Web-based survey, conducted in April 2006, of 350 Webtorials subscribers, 80 percent of whom said they played a role in the decision-making process of WLAN purchasing and installation.

Webtorials is an educational Web site for networking professionals. This year's report was sponsored by Aruba Wireless Networks.

WiFi, it turns out, is high on the "clout" list in enterprises. It tied with VPNs as the network technology (both wired and wireless) of top importance to enterprises over the next 18 months, both garnering a 5.6 aggregate score of importance out of a possible 7.

Intrusion detection on the rise
And wireless intrusion detection and prevention (WIDP) systems appear to be catching on as enterprises realise they need them whether they condone the use of WLANs in their organisations or not. Overlay WIDP products ranked third in the devices are most likely to represent a significant component of enterprises' WLAN systems in the next six months, after laptops and PDAs - basic client products that you need to even have a WLAN.

In addition, it looks like enterprise WiFi deployments are quickly moving beyond common areas such as conference rooms, lobbies, and cafeterias (80 percent) to include individual work spaces.

WiFi has been now deployed in user offices and cubicles in 62 percent of the respondents' companies. And, not surprisingly, but valuable to verify, the primary architecture wars have pretty well been resolved: Nearly half the respondents said they are using or are likely to use thin access points (AP) with a controller for centralised management and security, compared to just 33 percent saying so last year.

Correspondingly, plans to use intelligent stand-alone APs with no centralised controller dropped by six percentage points over last year, and plans to use stand-alone APs with some centralised management decreased by about 7 percent.

Want more details? Download the whole report (free, but
registration required).