Wireless Vendors Tout Security, VoIP At Interop

Vendors are looking to expand enterprise WLAN rollouts and shine a spotlight on the VoIP and security features of their latest wares.



Wireless vendors at Interop Las Vegas 2006 this week are pushing new products to expand enterprise wireless LAN rollouts and are spotlighting the VoIP and security features of their latest wares.

Meru Networks is targeting enterprise wireless deployments with its Wireless Backbone System and announcing its latest round of funding, while Trapeze Networks is launching new network access control features and demonstrating new Wi-Fi/cellular convergence.

Aruba Networks, meanwhile, is teaming with AirMagnet to incorporate troubleshooting tools into its WLAN platform, and wireless telephony vendor SpectraLink is demonstrating interoperability between its handsets and WLAN products from Meru and the Asterisk open-source VoIP platform.

Meru is unveiling its Wireless Backbone System, a portfolio of products designed to eliminate wiring from the network core out to the client device, a paradigm that Meru is touting as the All-Wireless Enterprise.

“For the channel, it’s not a sale of a small number of access points and controllers but [it] becomes an opportunity to provide an end-to-end wireless infrastructure,” said Ihab Abu-Hakima, president and CEO of Meru, Sunnyvale, Calif.

To set it up, solution providers deploy a Meru Controller and Radio Switch in the network core. The Radio Switch attached to the core switch then communicate wirelessly to other Radio Switches on the network, which in turn connect wirelessly to Meru Access Points. From there, every user in the enterprise can run voice and data over the WLAN, he said.

Meru’s Wireless Backbone System includes the new AP150-WB entry-level access point, new “WB” versions of its AP208 Access Point and RS-4000 Radio Switch, and Wireless Backbone Software for its line of MC Controllers. The Wireless Backbone System is slated to ship this summer.

The company this week also is disclosing that it has secured its fourth round of funding, with a $25 million investment led by Lehman Brothers Venture Partners. Nissho Electronics, Meru’s Japanese channel and distribution partner, also participated, as did several previous investors. Founded in 2002, Meru has now received total funding of about $68 million.

Meru plans to use the investment to expand its sales coverage in the field and bolster its marketing efforts to create leads for its channel partners, Abu-Hakima said.

At Interop, Trapeze plans to unveil two new security features incorporated into the latest version of its Mobility System Software.

The first, based on technology from Symantec, enables on-demand network access control features that can block guest wireless users from using the corporate network if their laptops aren’t compliant with corporate security features.

The system pushes out a software agent to guest devices that try to gain access, and the agent scans the client for policy compliance. If it is already infected or not up-to-date on antivirus settings and operating system patches, the system can deny access or send the endpoint to a quarantined VLAN for remediation, said Ashok Saraf, director of product marketing at Trapeze, Pleasanton, Calif.

Trapeze last week also announced support for Microsoft’s Network Access Protection (NAP) technology, which will be featured in the upcoming Windows Vista operating system, he said.

In addition, Trapeze has added GuestTunneling, a feature that establishes secure tunnels for guest users to access the Internet without granting any access to corporate resources. Trapeze also plans to demonstrate seamless mobility between a Wi-Fi and cellular network, a capability the company unveiled last week in partnership with mobility appliance startup DiVitas Networks. The companies have tested the handoff interoperability with Windows Mobile 05-based dual-mode handsets.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Aruba and AirMagnet, meanwhile, have teamed to integrate Aruba’s WLAN platform with troubleshooting and analysis software from AirMagnet. While running on Aruba’s platform, the AirMagnet analyzer can operate in passive or active mode. In passive mode, the tool monitors realtime data directly from Aruba’s WLAN controllers and access points. In active mode, the analyzer controls individual access points so users can troubleshoot problems.

On the wireless handset front, SpectraLink is announcing interoperability of its wireless VoIP phones with wireless networking gear from Meru and the Asterisk open-source IP telephony platform. Enterprise adoption of voice over WLAN is gaining strong traction, said Geri Mitchell-Brown, Wi-Fi stragist at the Boulder, Colo.-based company.

“The No. 1 thing that enterprises need to consider is to think about adding voice and the effects on the network before they do it,” Mitchell-Brown said. “Voice has inherently different characteristics, and something as simple as the coverage area of the WLAN can be different for voice vs. data.”

Other differences that need to be explored in VoWLAN deployments impact security policies, quality of service and RF characteristics, she added.

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