Bringing Testing to the Big WLANs

By Eric Griffith

November 10, 2003

Azimuth Systems is bringing testing products to 802.11 networks so enterprises and even Wi-Fi product vendors can make sure their equipment can scale upward as the LAN grows.

Azimuth Systems of Acton, MA, announced today its W-Series 802.11 WLAN Analysis Platform, a system for testing and validating a large-scale wireless LAN for scalability, mobility, and roaming ability in a laboratory setting. Essentially this system is putting off-the-shelf access points and client cards into their own controlled radio frequency mini-chamber for testing.

The initial equipment consists of the 800W Chassis with 8 slots (a 3 slot 300W unit is in the works) in which you place modules with different functions. The chassis contains a full Windows-based PC system running either Windows XP or 2000. With the PC running various modules, you have a complete lab platform that can take on a variety of configurations. Central control software called Director runs the systems, which can support 802.11a/b/g simultaneously.

CEO Ray Cronin calls this product "an off the shelf tool -- we think there's a demand in the market for it."

One 800W can support a maximum of 16 access points and up to 1024 soft-clients. Because of the level of dB isolation, Cronin says they can do things like hide two clients on the same access point from others, or test roaming from access point to access point. The current modules include Station Test Module (Windows client), a testMAC softClient emulation module, an RF Port module, and an RF Test Head. Scripts and some test suites are included.

One of Azimuth's first paying customer is Symbol Technologies . In the company announcement, Symbol said the Azimuth system lets them "derive repeatable test results creating real world test cases that would otherwise be difficult to reproduce in the lab." By the end of the month they expect to have five systems in the field. Vendors with multiple chassis can link them.

Azimuth has only been around since 2002, and got $12.9 million in venture capital funding in its first two rounds. While the system's initial target is Wi-Fi, Cronin says they can extend it to other wireless networks to come, such as WiMax or even Zigbee.

Pricing due to the module nature of the system is difficult to pinpoint, but entry level would be around $40,000 and could go up to hundreds of thousands depending on the size someone wants to put together. Typical price will likely average around $80,000.

"We view the market from the end-user perspective," says Cronin. "If a company puts in 802.11, [our system] tells them what they need to deliver to make everyone happy."

Wi-Fi Planet Conference Want to see the Azimuth Systems platform up close and personal? Join us at the Wi-Fi Planet Conference & Expo, December 2 - 5, 2003 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA. The company will be one of over 90 vendors on the show floor and the company founder and CTO will be speaking on the panel Making A Point: Technologies, products, and design strategies for access points.



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