Roving Planet Unifies WLANs

Commander Suite 3.0 manages multivendor Wi-Fi networks from a central location

Roving Planet Inc. last week unveiled the latest in its series of software suites that bring management features to legacy wireless LANs.

At the Interop trade show in Las Vegas, the Westminster, Colo., company introduced Commander Suite 3.0 Enterprise Edition, which secures, monitors and manages multivendor Wi-Fi networks.

Key features of the new suite include Network Commander, a module that manages and monitors the performance of a regional wireless network; Global Commander, which captures data from multiple Network Commanders and displays the information on a single console so that IT managers can gauge the condition of the global network; and Site Commander, which distributes authentication services.

"The world has changed a good bit in the 15 months since our Roving Planet installation," said Dewitt Latimer, chief technology officer at the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Ind., which uses the software to manage approximately 500 Cisco access points. Latimer said that while there are more options out there now, the software does a good job, and he sees no immediate need to shop around. "Now that were well into the investment, while not impossible to retract and go in a different direction, theres not a real compelling reason to do that," he said.

And analysts said there is a definite place for companies such as Roving Planet.

"When you think about it, third-party management tools have historically been the way to go with wired networks; witness the position of [Hewlett-Packard Co.s] OpenView in that space," said Craig Mathias, principal of Farpoint Group, a consultancy in Ashland, Mass. "The future is in unified WLANs. Roving Planet should have a very good shot at the top here."

Commander Suite 3.0 Enterprise Edition is available immediately. Pricing ranges from $300 per access point for entry-level configurations to $75 per access point for networks of 10,000 or more access points.