Two wireless LAN switching vendors are launching programs aimed at making their switches communicate with third-party access points.
Aruba Wireless Networks Inc. this week will begin the Aruba Certified program, which involves its access point source code, and Trapeze Networks Inc. will launch a program called Open Access Point Initiative.
Officials at both companies said the programs will give customers more choices as basic access points become commodity items.
"I think this is an exciting move that will increase competition in the wireless space and ultimately lead to better products at lower prices," said Chris Hessing, head of networking at the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, which uses access points from Trapeze, Cisco Systems Inc. and Proxim Inc.
Arubas program entails opening the source code that lets the companys access points talk to its line of centrally managed WLAN switches. This week the Sunnyvale, Calif., vendor will post the code on SourceForge.net, an open-source development Web site.
The next step is certification, in which Aruba officially ensures compatibility between its switches and third-party access points. The switch loads a new image onto an access point, which allows the device to take advantage of the radio-frequency monitoring, adaptive radio management and security features of Aruba switches.
"We are basically doing a brain transplant," said Keerti Melkote, vice president of business development at Aruba.
The company is in the process of certifying several access points from Netgear Inc.; a Netgear access point that works with Aruba switches will be available in the next few months, Melkote said.
Aruba has yet to announce certification partnerships with other hardware companies, such as market leader Cisco, but technically the source code can operate on any IBM PowerPC-based access point that uses system-on-a-chip radios from Atheros Communications Inc., Aruba officials said.
Meanwhile, Trapeze is teaming with one of Netgears main competitors on its Open Access Point Initiative, said Trapeze officials in Pleasanton, Calif.
D-Link Corp., of Fountain Valley, Calif., is building an access point designed to take advantage of the monitoring features of Trapezes RingMaster switch management software.
Cisco, for its part, plans to make its access points work with Airespace switches using Lightweight Access Point Protocol, which Airespace authored with NTT DoCoMo Inc. several years ago.