Trapeze Branches Out

By Eric Griffith

October 05, 2004

The company joins other wireless switch vendors in targeting the remote branch office segment with a product designed specifically for plug-and-play by non-IT staff.

Trapeze Networks is far from the first of the various Wi-Fi switch vendors to come up with a product that is meant to sit in a remote branch office away from the larger corporate headquarters—companies like Airespace, Aruba, and ReefEdge have all announced such products— but the company says its new MXR-2 unit stands out thanks to its ease of deployment and manageability.

"Corporations are going to deploy tens or hundreds of thousands of these units, so we designed it from the ground up," says Bruce Van Nice, director of product marketing at Trapeze. "We needed the full feature set, but at the branch office. It had to be another wireless LAN switch, smaller and with fewer access points, but it couldn't compromise on features. You can't burden the customer with complexity, though, so it had to also have a high degree of automation."

The small, two-port Mobility Exchange MXR-2 is touted as a "drop-ship, no-touch" unit that, when sent to a branch and plugged into a direct connection back to the corporate network, is automatically configured for use through the Trapeze RingMaster software management suite. RingMaster will run the main switch at the headquarters as well as all branch MXR-2 units, providing the same functionality in all locations.

For example, says Van Nice, users roaming from location to location—that is, someone from HQ visiting a branch office, or vice versa—won't have to reconfigure their client systems to get online. Both locations will offer the same settings.

Using multiple MXR-2s in a branch office also provides redundancy, and if the wide area network (WAN) connection between the main office and the branch goes out, the MXR-2 configuration remains intact so users can, at the very least, continue to use local resources and/or get online, which isn't always an option if the branch is simply using a centrally-controlled AP.

Van Nice thinks the price of the unit ($995 each) compares favorably to the competition, noting that a similar branch setup of a switch with two access points from Trapeze costs less half of what Aruba or Airespace charges, and is also cheaper than two access points from Cisco—which, despite being the world's biggest corporate Wi-Fi seller, doesn't offer a WLAN switch that would go in a branch office.

"$1,000 is the sweet spot for the [branch] switch," Van Nice says. "Higher than that isn't viable."

The MXR-2 will be available later this year, and will work with Trapeze's existing MobilityPoint units as well as some third party APs using Power over Ethernet.

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