Cisco Addresses WLANs

Launches products that aim to manage WLANs centrally.

Cisco Systems Inc. and Atheros Communications Inc. are each introducing new products that address WLAN administrators biggest concerns: management and security.

Cisco will announce this week the Structured Wireless-Aware Network, a series of products and upgrades that address the trend toward centrally managed wireless LANs.

This summer, the networking company will begin rolling out hardware and software designed to ease management and make it possible to manage more access points while using Ciscos existing routers and switches.

On the hardware side, the San Jose, Calif., company next month will ship Version 2.0 of the CiscoWorks WLSE (Wireless LAN Solution Engine), an appliance that manages access points and automates their software upgrades. Version 2.0 increases support from 500 to 2,500 access points, officials said. Its list price is $8,495. Version 2.5, due later in the year as a software upgrade, will add management tools for site surveys, detection of rogue access points and interference problems.

"The rogue [access point] detection has typically been something you had to get from an outside supplier," said Cisco user David Hemindinger, chief technology officer at LifeSpan, a hospital group in Providence, R.I. "Management tools from Cisco [were] somewhat lacking. We had some third-party stuff from other companies, but they didnt integrate quite as well."

Cisco will also release corresponding software upgrades for its Aironet 1100 and 1200 lines of access points this month, with another upgrade due with the release of WLSE 2.5. Management software that will make Ciscos switches and routers wireless-aware is due by years end, officials said.

Separately, Cisco is announcing a new outdoor wireless bridge that supports 802.11a. The Aironet 1400 Series Wireless Bridge is due this month.

Meanwhile, Atheros this week is announcing seven WLAN chip sets for various combinations of the 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g Wi-Fi protocols. This is the Sunnyvale, Calif., companys third generation of chip sets, and they trump predecessors by using fewer components and supporting Wi-Fi Protected Access and the latest draft of the IEEEs 802.11i standard, officials said.

Available immediately to hardware vendors, the chip sets that support 802.11a will incorporate support for the provisions of the Jumpstart Broadband Act, which allows for more channels and less interference in the 5GHz range.