Bridgewater Provides Wi-Fi AAA

By Eric Griffith

September 24, 2003

The company, known for its carrier-level authentication, has dummied down its product to work for the enterprise and provide full, in-house authentication, authorization and accounting.

Bridgewater Systems of Ottawa is serving up its carrier-class authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) (define) to the enterprise.

Today the company announced Wi-FI AAA, a Windows-server-based, scaled-down version of its product for carriers (which runs on Linux).

In June at the Wi-Fi Planet Conference & Expo, the company announced a Windows version of its service manager product that would let carriers administer WLANs for enterprises. This product is an extension of that, letting the enterprise handle the network authentications internally.

"We wanted to take our expertise in this area and make it available at the enterprise level," says Karl Toompuu, product manager for Bridgewater Systems. "Wi-Fi AAA differs from our other products in scale.... it doesn't have to scale to millions [of users.]" Carriers using the full Bridgewater service controller deal with millions of users; Toompuu says that product handles about 60 percent of the CDMA traffic in North America.

Wi-Fi AAA does away with the high-end features such as an Oracle database, but does retain its own RADIUS server, with an option for an LDAP repository. It will support other user information repositories such as Active Directory or NT Domains.

It has full support for Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and the 802.1X authentication scheme, with support for 802.11i when it arrives. With the latter it needs to support Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) types: Cisco's Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol (LEAP) and Microsoft's Protected Extensible Authentication Protocol (PEAP) are both built in (as well as the lower end TLS and TTLS).

Bridgewater does not provide any client software for authentication, preferring to depend on the built-in solutions found in operating systems like Windows XP. Competitors like Funk Software and Meetinghouse Data Communications provide client software that runs on older versions of Windows as well as other operating systems including Unix, Palm, and the Mac OS.

The Wi-Fi AAA software will provide a litany of capabilities including usage tracking, visitor access privileges, specifying services for select users on the network, and others.

Those curious about the software's abilities can download and try a full version for 30 days; after that they can purchase a key to re-activate the installed software in full. Pricing is a sliding scheme based on the number of users and access points.

Toompuu says the Bridgewater product should stand out from the pack due to pedigree: "It's easier to have carrier class products that you make attractive to the enterprise, rather than the other direction."

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