Though standalone access points are often the method of choice for setting up wireless networks for the office, some businesses turn instead to switch-based systems because of the higher-level controls they provide.
Theres a host of switch-based wireless LAN products currently available, led by Cisco Systems and Symbol Technologies, though several relative newcomers have entered the field with innovative solutions. Probably best known among these are Airespace, Aruba Wireless Networks, and Trapeze Networks.
Switch-based systems centralize the deployment, configuration, and management of access points, which are simpler devices than traditional APs. Sometimes called access ports, these devices are essentially just a radio with an Ethernet port that can be controlled only from the wireless switch.
Such access ports are basically plug-and-play in terms of deployment—no individual configuration required. This also means that new or replacement devices can be dropped into the network without the need for on-site configuration. Thats a plus for branch offices and remote-office locations where devices can be shipped and then simply plugged in.
By comparison, traditional, standalone fat/smart access points maintain their configuration information and perform client authentication, thus requiring more management. This must be done either on an AP-by-AP basis or to all via an overlaid management solution—more work no matter how you cut it.
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