CA Introduces New 802.11 Management Tools for the Enterprise

By Kevin Reichard

April 24, 2002

Computer Associates enters the burgeoning 802.11 market with extensions to its flagship product, Unicenter, that enables corporations to manage all 802.11 usage on an enterprise-wide scale.

Computer Associates enters the burgeoning 802.11 market with extensions to its flagship product, Unicenter, enabling corporations to manage all 802.11 usage on an enterprise-wide scale.

The products, Unicenter Wireless Network Management (WNM) and Unicenter Mobile Device Management (MDM), splits the management of 802.11 networking between access points and mobile devices. It also treats 802.11 networks as one part of the networking whole, which means that from a management viewpoint there's little difference between a traditional, existing wired network and a new 802.11 wireless network.

According to Don LeClair, vice president in the office of CTO at CA, the combination of WNM and MDM automates 802.11 network management while at the same time adding capabilities not found in the average wireless network.

"For starters, [WNM] has an advanced discovery capability, so you automatically find access points and the devices that are connected to them," LeClair said. With this information, WNM can capture events on the devices, helping administers to quantify performance and availability information.

In addition, WNM offers enhanced security, including intrusion detection, using existing security tools built into Unicenter.

As the product is built on top of Unicenter, LeClair said that there are few limits to the number of access points and wireless networking managed by Unicenter Wireless Network Management. "In theory, you could management hundreds of thousands of networks using it," he said.

Because of variances between access points, LeClair said that WNM will not automatically support every 802.11b and 802.11a access point on the market.

"We are working with the major vendors first, making sure that we support the most popular devices on the market," LeClair said. "The 80211 specs do not provide for a uniform management interface, so you're back to the early days of networking where it was difficult to implement network management -- the various devices would talk to one another, for instance, but they didn't necessarily support SNMP. We're seeing those same sorts of issues in the 802.11 world."

Unicenter Mobile Device Management casts a wider net, supporting both 802.11 devices and non-802.11 devices, such as RIM's Blackberry, although the initial release will center on management of Pocket PCs. MDM will focus on the nitty-gritty aspects of device management, including software delivery, asset management, and VPN management. In addition, as most mobile devices, such as the Palm, do not have anti-virus support, MDM will monitor potential virus issues on these devices, including viruses that are not native to the device but can be passed on to a system where the virus can take root.

Both products have already been implemented and supported by a number of industry leaders, including ReefEdge, Compaq, and Fujitsu Siemens. Key3Media will be using the tools to manage wireless access at next week's Networld + Interop show in Las Vegas.

"CA continues to provide us with the tools we need to bring a reliable and secure high-speed network to every part of Networld+Interop," said Robert Perkins, CIO of Key3 Media, in a prepared release. "Using their Unicenter tools we are able to showcase the full capabilities of managing and servicing an integrated wired and wireless network."

Both products are currently in beta testing and are scheduled for general release this summer. The initial release will be for Windows and Solaris servers, with other versions of UNIX supported in future releases. Pricing has not been determined, although LeClair said that it will be tiered server-based pricing similar to current Unicenter pricing structures. Kevin Reichard is executive editor of 80211planet.com.



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