Wired, 3G Providers Grab the Reef for Solutions

By Matthew Peretz

April 29, 2002

ReefEdge expands its Connect System into a Service Provider Solution for securing and managing users over disparate network topologies.

ReefEdge today announced its Service Provider Solution (SPS), designed to enable service providers to offer secure network access to corporate users both from within the enterprise premises, outside of it in public WLAN hotspots, and when connected by a 2.5G or 3G WAN or 802.11 WLAN.

The solution is designed to enable the integration of broadband wireless networks owned by a service provider or enterprise. The SPS creates a common framework for network management and security across the WAN and WLAN. ReefEdge stated that a "corporate user will have the same user experience and have access to the same corporate services, whether they are within the enterprise premises, or within a public 802.11 'hotspot' in an airport, or connected by a 2.5G or 3G wide-area wireless network."

The ReefEdge SPS is actually built on the company's ReefEdge Connect System, which, as 802.11-Planet learned in a recent interview with co-founder and CTO Sandeep Singhal, is currently in version 2 of its release cycle since initial product launch in May, 2001. The ReefEdge Connect System is comprised of a family of network appliances that sit between access points (APs)and the wired network. More specifically, the Server Appliance acts as the WLAN nerve center, and interfaces both with the wired network and what are called Connect Bridges - which enforce WLAN policies set up at the server. User traffic is routed between APs and the Connect Bridges. The system provides security be enforcing authentication and access control privileges. It uses a dynamic IPSEC solution tailored for the WLAN environment. As users move about the network, the IPSEC tunnel actually moves with them from one connect bridge to another. Singhal described them as being like tiny VPN servers, but with much lower costs and much greater adaptive capacity.

The SPS builds on this solution by adding solutions tailored specifically to service provider needs. These include a virtual WLAN - which enables sharing and roaming over a common WLAN infrastructure and an Authentication Toolkit, which is a standards-based open architecture for providing authentication incorporating SMS and SIM-based capabilities. Mr. Singhal also mentioned that ReefEdge provides a rich set of API's to enable expansion by developers.

The SPS is designed with both the wired and wireless service provider in mind. The wireless provider can use it to better integrate cellular and 802.11 infrastructures - and link them to management and security tools. Wireline operators can use it to offer secure wireless LAN access to corporate users. Multi-site enterprises might also choose the system to manage networks that span several corporate sites and connect remote branch offices and public access areas.

Descriptions of the various ReefEdge Connect System network appliances are available at the company's Web site.

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