Bolstered by a partnership with Nortel Networks Ltd., wireless LAN switch vendor Trapeze Networks Inc. is looking to be the sleeper hit of the Wi-Fi world with plans to tackle mesh networks and asset tracking.
Nortel formed an OEM agreement with Trapeze in March, after Cisco Systems Inc. acquired Airespace Inc., Nortels former OEM partner. Nortel also contributed an undisclosed amount of money to Trapezes final round of financing last month.
"Were working with Trapeze ... to get a more integrated solution," said Mark Whitton, vice president and general manager of Wireless Solutions at Nortel, in Brampton, Ontario.
That said, Trapeze officials insist that the company aims to be more than simply a Nortel channel partner for existing products. Trapeze also has partnerships with 3Com Corp., D-Link Systems Inc. and Enterasys Networks Inc.
"Everythings pointing to consolidation, so I wont ignore that, but if I can do more than become a Mini-Me of Nortel, then I can drive a good valuation," said Jim Vogt, president and CEO of Trapeze, in Pleasanton, Calif.
For the near future, Trapeze will focus on mesh networking, Vogt said, making Trapeze access points work in mesh networks as well as letting the companys RingMaster management software detect and manage meshes—including the mesh equipment Nortel already offers. Mesh networks dynamically route packets from node to node. Only one access point needs to be connected directly to the wired network, with the rest sharing a connection over the air, though in large mesh environments several access points may be connected.
Currently, RingMaster manages only access points directly connected to a network.
"If they go into a mesh and I cant see them, I cant set a policy," Vogt said. "Were hoping well have products before the end of the year that include a full range of radio technology that goes from premise to mesh, and all the management that goes along with it."
In addition to integrating its software with Nortels equipment, Trapeze is talking to two additional companies about integrating mesh technology into Trapezes hardware, Vogt said.
By years end, Trapeze plans to add more client location capabilities into its management software, Vogt said. This is a growing industry trend, serving customers who need to track anything from notebooks to IV pumps. Recently, market leader Cisco introduced the 2700 Series Wireless Location Appliance, which can track thousands of Wi-Fi clients on a corporate network.
"Id like to hear more about their plans for tracking mobile assets," said Trapeze customer Chip Greel, senior network architect at Finisar Corp., a fiber-optic-systems company in Sunnyvale, Calif. Greel added that Trapezes OEM agreements havent affected his customer service.
"I didnt know there was a deal with Nortel," he said. "Im still dealing with the same people in support and sales Ive always dealt with, and the responses have been timely and helpful."