Roving Planet Suite Manages Wi-Fi Networks

Introduced at the Interop trade show in Las Vegas, Commander Suite 3.0 Enterprise Edition secures, monitors and manages multivendor Wi-Fi networks.

Roving Planet has 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 this week, the 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 software arrives in spite of the recent spate of one-stop shops for WLAN (wireless LAN) software and hardware. Industry giants such as Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks Ltd. either sell or resell centrally managed WLAN platforms, as do many startups.

Bluesocket Inc., a competitor of Roving Planets in the security space, recently expanded its product line to include both controllers and access points with integrated RF (radio frequency) sensors.

"The world has changed a good bit in the fifteen months since our Roving Planet installation," said Dewitt Latimer, chief technology officer at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., which uses the software to manage about 500 Cisco access points.

He said that while more options exist 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," Latimer said.

Roving Planet officials said theyre seeing a great deal of business among enterprise customers who have an older, installed base of wireless access points but no way to control them centrally.

"Whats going to be a given is that software will be essential to operating wireless LANs, now and in the future," said Greg Mesch, president of Roving Planet Inc. in Westminster, Colo.

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, so I think third-party software/appliance-based management tools will likely play a big role in future networks, both wired and wireless. Roving Planet should have a very good shot at the top here."

Commander Suite 3.0 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.


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