WLAN Advances Raise Bar for Management

Bluesocket's new WLAN gateway can manage more than 1,000 users.

Advances in wireless LAN technologies due to be announced this week will take the number of users managed to new heights.

Bluesocket Inc. has developed a WLAN gateway that can control security and management on 802.11-based WLANs with more than 1,000 concurrent users.

The WG-5000, slated to ship next month, is aimed at enterprise and campus environments that need to support multiple brands of access points and clients.

"There might be hundreds of access points on the IP network; thats the need were filling here," said Eric Janszen, CEO of Bluesocket, in Burlington, Mass. "This is an extension of our architectural philosophy, which differs from that of the wireless switch vendors."

The WG-5000 is the fourth generation in Bluesockets line of wireless gateways. It features two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, optional 1000BaseSX Fiber interfaces and flash storage. It also supports encrypted data throughput rates of up to 500M bps.

Still, some customers prefer a wireless switching architecture over a gateway.

"We use an Aruba [Wireless Networks Inc.] switch to manage several different environments," said Joshua Wright, senior network and security architect at Johnson & Wales University, in Providence, R.I. Johnson & Wales, once a Bluesocket customer, now uses access points from Aruba, Cisco Systems Inc. and Enterasys Networks Inc.

Wright said the university phased out Bluesocket in favor of Aruba because Aruba provided additional management functions for its own access points that Bluesocket does not offer.

For its part, Aruba, of San Jose, Calif., this week is introducing a Wi-Fi switch for midsize businesses. The Aruba 2400 is a single-rack unit that supports as many as 512 simultaneous users. It includes 24 Fast Ethernet ports as well as two Gigabit Ethernet uplinks. Slated to be available next month, the switch will have a starting price of $4,495. Additional applications that add radio-frequency management, wireless intrusion detection, VPNs and firewalls will cost $4,000 each.

The switch is also optimized for voice support, officials said. In addition to decreasing the latency of handoffs between access points to less than 30 microseconds, the switch runs software that controls, manages and prioritizes voice traffic.

At Comdex in Las Vegas this week, Aruba will team up with Avaya Inc. to demonstrate voice over WLAN using Avayas 3616 wireless phones and Arubas 5000 Wi-Fi switch. The switch will be connected to Avayas Communications Manager System, which validates users extensions and passwords and then allows them on the WLAN, which is connected to the Public Switched Telephone Network.