More Wireless Switches on Tap

Trapeze and Extreme Networks tackle wireless management.

With a focus on easing wireless and wire-line management woes, two companies this week will join the movement to build wireless capabilities into the wiring closet.
Trapeze Mobility System

Startup Trapeze Networks Inc. will announce a wireless switching platform the company developed from the ground up, while Extreme Networks will announce plans to add wireless capabilities to its line of switches.

The Trapeze Mobility System features a central switch called MX (Mobility Exchange) and thin access points called Mobility Points, which perform packet encryption but have no local data store. The system also includes a variety of applications, such as one called Ringmaster that automates the site survey process, saving users a great deal of time, according to beta testers.

"Being a hospital, we are constantly remodeling," said Irv Hoff, manager of converged networks at San Antonio Community Hospital, in Upland, Calif. "Putting up walls changes the attenuation factor, which blows the last site survey."

"Our initial site survey took four or five days," said Jan Snyder, senior telecommunications consultant at the hospital. "With Ringmaster, it took a few hours."

Trapeze also addresses the "bug light" syndrome, wherein a client connects to the access point with the strongest radio signal even if that access point is disconnected from the network. Mobility Points wont accept user associations until MX verifies both power and data connections.

Products will be available in June, according to Trapeze officials, in Pleasanton, Calif. A starter kit, including one MX, two Mobility Points and the software suite, costs $9,500.

Meanwhile, Extreme Networks will unveil its Unified Access Architecture, which lets IT managers control wired Ethernet, wireless LAN and wired power-over-Ethernet devices centrally. For starters, this includes two new products. The Summit 300-48 is a 48-port switch for controlling a variety of networks. The Altitude 300 is a wireless port (or thin access point) that supports 802.11a, 802.11b and the draft-standard 802.11g.

The switch will cost $6,495; the access point will be $595, officials said. Both are due next quarter.

"It is not just about wireless LAN," said Vipin Jain, vice president and general manager of LAN access business at Extreme, in Santa Clara, Calif. "It is about a network enterprise. You have to really look at an end-to-end network."

Extreme will use its existing ExtremeWare and EPICenter management software to control its new wireless hardware, Jain said.

Trapeze and Extreme are certainly not alone. Companies including Symbol Technologies Inc., Aruba Wireless Networks Inc., Proxim Inc. and Airespace Inc. offer comparable products. Cisco Systems Inc. is rumored to be exploring the space as well.

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