Bluesocket Goes for Branch Offices

By Ed Sutherland

December 06, 2004

Following the lead of the switch vendors, the established gateway maker has a box ready for remote locations that can be centrally managed.

Following what Bluesocket calls the "contagious" growth of Wi-Fi access in enterprises, the Burlington, Mass-based security and management vendor today introduces a gateway for remote branch offices.

Branch offices are drawing increasing attention from Wi-Fi vendors seeking new markets. Recently, a plethora of Wi-Fi switch companies, including Airespace, Extreme, Symbol and Trapeze, have released products targeting remote or satellite offices.

Bluesocket's new gateway is a scaled-down version of its enterprise product, supporting fewer users while claiming little need for IT intervention and sporting a familiar user interface.

Able to support up to 50 users, Bluesocket's WG-400 wireless gateway is the 'little brother' of the company's 1,000-user capable WG-5000. Priced to begin at $2,250, the smaller gateway can manage up to eight access points, four directly connected to the gateway's built-in switch.

Bluesocket calls the new device "a natural extension" of its line of gateways with the authentication, policy enforcement, and ease of use that its customers have come to expect.

The WG-400 "now gives enterprises a cost-effective WLAN solution for wireless communications in their corporate branches and small offices," according to Bluesocket.

As more Wi-Fi gateways and switches make their way into the enterprise, Bluesocket has upgraded its BlueView Management system. BlueView now provides centralized monitoring of WLANs that have grown to include up to 100 Wi-Fi gateways.

As enterprises become enamored with the flexibility that Wi-Fi provides, more companies are requiring wireless connectivity, says Rohit Mehra, Bluesocket's director of product marketing. Indeed, the spread of Wi-Fi is almost biological.

"Wireless is like a disease spreading quickly," Mehra says. "It's contagious."

Bluesocket's new branch office Wi-Fi gateway is device-agnostic, allowing it to work with existing WLAN gear, says Mehra. The gateway provides "flexibility for direct or existing APs," says Mehra.

Because branch offices often have small computer support staffs, network administration of the Bluesocket gateway can be done from a central office, requiring just an hour or two of time.

The new gateway also provides branch office users with a familiar login page—the simplest in the industry, claims Mehra.

Employees use "the same familiar Bluesocket login, regardless of whether they're at their main office or connecting at a remote branch office," according to the company.

As growth of WLANs continues and the enterprises increase the number of Wi-Fi gateways, so does the need for some centralized management. For companies with between 50 and 100 wireless gateways, Mehra sees the need for a centralized management system.

Bluesocket's BlueView Management System "provides centralized configuration, policy enforcement and monitoring," according to a prepared statement.

"IT management can lower operational costs by automating provisioning and maintenance tasks such as configuration backups, patch applications, software upgrades and WLAN policy changes," according to Bluesocket.

Bluesocket claims about 5.7 percent of the wireless switch/gateway market, according to Synergy Research (the Dell 'Oro Group claims the gateway market makes up around three percent of the overall WLAN segment). Last Friday, the company said it would entice customers of beleaguered competitor ReefEdge with a 50 percent trade-in rebate on equipment.



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