By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2005-02-28 Print this article Print

Trapeze Networks MXR-2 Mobility Exchange provides good features for small businesses and corporate branch offices alike, but enterprise customers will most appreciate Trapezes optional enterprise management console, the excellent RingMaster.

We tested the MXR-2, which sells for $995 and began shipping this month configured with Version 3.1.5 software. We tested the MXR-2 with a pair of a/b/g-compliant MP-352 Mobility Points, which sell for $549 each.

Unlike Symbols WS 2000, which has four POE-enabled ports, the MXR-2 has only one POE port. In our tests, the MXR-2 worked without a hitch with an MP-352 Mobility Point connected to a POE-enabled Hewlett-Packard Co. HP ProCurve Switch 2626-PWR, but small offices that plan to use more than one Mobility Point will need to provide their own power source for them. The MXR-2 manages up to three Mobility Points; for such a small number of devices, wed like to see the MXR-2 supply enough ports to power them all.

Click here to read Labs review of Symbols WS 2000. Initial configuration of the MXR-2 is performed via the command-line interface, and administrators can perform ongoing management through the browser-based interface. However, the latter method was not as full-featured as the former, with no access to ACL (access control list) configuration and missing RF monitoring information.

Companies maintaining multiple Mobility Exchange switches should instead opt for the fantastic RingMaster 3.1 console application. With prices starting at $1,995 to manage as many as five Mobility Exchanges, RingMaster provides a best-in-class enterprise wireless deployment and management console. Administrators can load CAD file-building blueprints into RingMaster, which can then compute a buildings attenuation factors and calculate the best positions for Mobility Point deployment.

The MXR-2 provides good authentication alternatives to offer the highest-grade wireless encryption even to networks without existing AAA services.

We found it more complicated than with the Symbol WS 2000 to tie the MXR-2 in with our Steel-Belted RADIUS server—requiring some reconfiguration of the RADIUS server itself—but the difficulty comes with some rewards. The MXR-2 needs the RADIUS server to pass along each users VLAN (virtual LAN) membership as part of the authentication process, which allows the MXR-2 to give users the correct permissions no matter which wireless network they connect to. Most other wireless products weve tested tend to tie VLANs to the network name instead.

For companies without an existing RADIUS infrastructure, the MXR-2 also offers an integrated AAA server. We found we could use the internal AAA server for a full WPA or WPA2 implementation using PEAP (Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol), or we could simply let users log on to a Web authentica- tion page.

Unlike the WS 2000, which uses a stateful firewall to define access to resources, the MXR-2 uses ACLs to approve or deny access to resources, and these ACLs can be applied according to VLAN membership.

The Trapeze system also offers basic rogue detection that polls for devices every 5 minutes and can generate countermeasures to deny access to unwanted devices. Its not the most robust IDS feature weve seen, but its more than the WS 2000 offers.

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Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at agarcia@eweek.com.

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