Companies with large and rapidly changing wireless local-area networks could easily go broke—and face big security problems—if they tried to get by without management software such as Wavelink Corp.s Mobile Manager and Avalanche.
"There are a lot of settings that have to be changed and tuned on wireless access points," says Tim Stettheimer, CIO at St. Vincents Hospital in Birmingham, Ala. Stettheimers wireless network has grown to 168 access points spread out over nearly a million square feet of hospital and office space. Individually configuring each access point was not realistic. "For one thing, I couldnt come up with enough staff to do that," he says.
Stettheimer and other managers say Wavelinks products allow them to get by with fewer administrators, even as Wi-Fi networks expand.
Guy Ledbetter, help desk manager of Orlando, Fla.,-based retailer ABC Fine Wines & Spirits, dedicates only one of his 11 staffers to oversee the wireless network, which connects 150 stores with ABCs headquarters. For some tasks—such as configuring Palm handheld devices used by store clerks to record product deliveries and report inventory levels—Ledbetter would need to walk managers in each store through the process. "That would be a nightmare," he says.
Wavelink products allow managers to monitor whether wireless access points are working, and to scan for rogue access points. Mobile Manager can also be used to remotely configure wireless access points to, for example, recognize new users or new types of client devices. Most important to security-conscious users such as Ledbetter, Mobile Manager can automatically rotate encryption keys to make them harder to hack.
Thats not to say customers are completely satisfied. Jim Doellman, director of technical services at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital, says Mobile Managers basic statistical reporting isnt enough. He wants to easily display results on access-point utilization, for example, in formats that hospital managers can understand.
Arkansas State Universitys Eric Barnett says the university decided against using Avalanche for managing wireless devices because the product is licensed on a per-user basis. "With [10,000] potential users, Avalanche becomes really cost-prohibitive," he says. "Its easy to justify the cost of Mobile Manager which is priced per access point. Its not so easy to justify Avalanche."
ABC Fine Wines & Spirits has expanded its wireless network without adding staff using Wavelink, says Guy Ledbetter.
11332 NE 122nd Way, Kirkland, WA 98034
(425) 823-0111 www.wavelink.com
Chairman, CTO, Founder
Develops strategy and product direction.Previously involved with software ventures.
Before being named CEO in January 2002, he was CEO of Loudeye Technology, an Internet streaming-media company, and Data I/O.
VP, Worldwide Sales
Joined company in January 2002. Previously held management positions at GTE, Objective Systems Integrators, and Dorado Software.
Wavelink Mobile Manager for the network; Avalanche for management of wireless devices; and Mobile Manager Enterprise.