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5/21/2007
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Mobility, Networking Highlight Interop Product Launches

The first batch of news announcements slated for Monday focus on several key areas: transformation of the branch office, mobility, network security, and next-generation networks.

This week's Interop conference in Las Vegas will feature more than 450 exhibitors, and among them are some of the biggest technology players in the networking and wireless industries. The first batch of news announcements slated for Monday focus on several key areas: transformation of the branch office, mobility, network security, and next-generation networks.

Avaya rolled out the Distributed Office, a new IP telephony communications system for branch offices. With the system, employees get features like "click to conference" and integrated instant messaging for instant communication with others. They also can forward incoming office calls to their mobile phone and not be tethered to a desk while waiting for important calls.

The Distributed Office product can be customized for the individual business location and comes with centralized management tools that allow the IT staff to control the entire branch office's network from a single interface. Centrally managing a network can reduce on-site technician time and cut operating costs, Avaya said.

Citrix Systems announced the availability of WANScaler, its new software-based wide area network optimization client for mobile employees working outside branch offices. WANScaler is installed as both an appliance at each branch office and as a software client on each user's PC. Employees can access business applications from any location and get good performance even when they're working remotely, according to the company.

Citrix said it made other improvements in application delivery by adding several new capabilities to the WANScaler appliance line, including better quality of service for highly interactive applications and an expanded network interface to support complex enterprise networks. The WANScaler client and the new capabilities will be commercially available in WANScaler version 4 this June. The client will cost from $50 to $170 per user depending on the size of the deployment. The WANScaler appliance starts at $5,000.

Nortel unveiled a new strategy at Interop that focuses on Business Optimized Networking for optimizing and transforming enterprise networks to support unified communications and other business apps.

Nortel also unveiled three new branch office products for Business Optimized Networking. The Secure Router 4134 integrated WAN routing, Ethernet switching, IP telephony, and Microsoft Mediation technology for businesses that want to deploy unified voice, video, and multimedia apps at remote branch offices. The WLAN 2300, to be available in the third quarter of 2007, includes a WLAN Security Switch, Access Point, and software release for businesses looking to deploy scalable WLAN networks. The Application Accelerator, to be available this month, is designed for businesses that want to accelerate their Web-based applications.

Mobility is where many technology vendors have turned their focus. Aruba Networks on Monday announced two new software products for on-the-go employees. Its Mobile Access Point software connects employees to the office when they're working remotely with "follow-me" security and user access controls. In addition, it comes with a HotelConnect feature for employees that want to access a hotel's Internet service with their mobile devices that would otherwise be blocked by the hotel's billing system.

Aruba's other new product -- the Mobile Voice Continuity software -- is part of the third phase of the company's enterprise Fixed-Mobile Convergence program launched last year. The software automatically hands off data and phone calls between a WLAN network and a cellular network. IP PBX upgrades or partnerships with cellular carriers are not required, the company said.

Beyond WLANs, businesses will need to start considering next-generation networks based on technologies like WiMax, which are expected to play a key role in how data is delivered to branch offices and remote workers. Last June, Fujitsu Microelectronics introduced its Mobile WiMax System-on-Chip (SoC) for PCs and mobile devices. The chip was developed by the same team that developed the baseband for 2G and 3G mobile devices. This Monday at Interop, Fujitsu provided more details on its road map.

The company said its WiMax chip is the first in its class to participate in WiMax Forum's Wave 2 certification and that samples of the chip will be available in August. Fujitsu is offering Full System Design Kit hardware and the PC Card Reference Platform Delivery Kit to equipment markers to speed up mass production. Businesses will be able to make use of WiMax once chips like Fujitsu's make their way into PCs and mobile devices.

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