Switches in the Trenches

By Eric Griffith

November 18, 2003

UPDATED: Enterprise IT Week is under way at the Las Vegas tradeshows, and the wireless industry switch vendors and others at the shows (and some not) have plenty to report, especially deals for overseas expansion.

Enterprise IT Week is under way at the Las Vegas tradeshows, and the wireless industry switch vendors and others at the shows (and some not) have plenty to report.

Starting with Aruba Networks, which is demonstrating a voice over WLAN solution with Avaya at Comdex this week. In addition, the San Jose, Calif.-based company said it's entered a support agreement with NCR Corporation. The former National Cash Register is now entirely in the global support business, says Pankaj Manglik, the president, CEO, and co-founder of Aruba.

"We wanted to provide a mechanism so any global enterprise can get a level of support you'd expect from any large vendor," says Manglik. NCR will install and support Aruba products anywhere in the world a customer wants the Aruba switch architecture.

The company said that a couple of request for proposal (RFP) situations have come up with Fortune 100 firms that want to put Wi-Fi throughout the corporation, but want service and support with a company ten times Aruba's size. NCR fits the bill.

The demo with Avaya at Comdex, in the Mobility Innovation center, is a straightforward coupling of the Aruba 5000 switch system and Avaya 3616 wireless IP phones. The phones register though the Aruba access points and switch to the Avaya Communications Manager system, and once authenticated the traffic runs to the Avaya G700 Media Gateway which connects to the public phone network. The switch takes care of converting traffic from 802.11 wireless to 802.3 Ethernet with any Quality of Service (QoS) needed to make sure the voice traffic gets priority.

The company also announced the Aruba 2400 Wi-Fi switch, a mid-range unit that sits in the area between the Aruba 5000 and 800. The 2400 is geared toward small-to-medium businesses; the 5000 is for enterprises, the 800 for branch offices. It's a single rack unit with a fixed configuration (the 5000 is modular), and supports up to 512 users and 48 access points.

Airespace is expanding as well. The company launched its Europe/Middle East/Asia (EMEA) operations this week, with a headquarters in the United Kingdom to centrally handle partners that would provide sales and service, some of which are already in place in France, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain, as well as the UK.

Vivato says that its latest piece of hardware, a bridge/router, has received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Part 15C rules authorization. That means, it plays nice in the unlicensed radio frequency spectrum used by 802.11 networks. The $495 Vivato bridge/router does backhaul that can be used to provide broadband to a Vivato wall mounted switch. In the announcent, the company said this "gives the green light to offer customers a complete line of standardized Wi-Fi solutions."

Speaking of being made official, Legra Systems became the first WLAN switch vendor to get Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) securty certificaiton from the Wi-Fi Alliance. The model SL2012 is the product in question. Previously, Aruba got Wi-Fi Certification, but not for WPA security.

Finally, over at Netgear -- a company not usually considered a WLAN switch vendor and in fact just now making inroads into Enterprise wireless -- they've launched a new Layer 3 Managed 10/100 switch with Power over Ethernet (model FSM7326P) that is suitable to work with PoE access points, including Netgear's own WG302 ProSafe 802.11g Access Point. At a price of only $1,750, it's a product many smaller businesses can consider versus the large enterprise solutions. The product will be available in December.

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