ReefEdge, known for its security gateways, is to introduce a family of WLan switch products.
The products are aimed at companies with 100 or more distributed locations, said Mark Juliano, vice-president of strategy at ReefEdge.
ReefEdge customers will be able to choose APs (access points) from suppliers such as Cisco Systems, Symbol Technologies, NetGear and Proxim.
Other WLan switch suppliers have been criticised because they require customers to buy only their APs for maximum functionality.
“They’re wrong to say you need a proprietary AP to do this,” he said, adding that more functionality is being built into standard APs.
Juliano points to Cisco’s IOS software, which allows access to a wide array of information about Cisco APs. For example, users can query the AP for information about other nearby APs it detects, or rely on IOS to monitor the channel the AP operates on, including how much power it outputs and which users are associated with it.
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“The data is there. What you need is the analysis engine, which we have in our switches, which uses that information to build the RF environment,” Juliano said.
ReefEdge competitors are sceptical. “I’d be really apprehensive,” said David Callisch, marketing director at Aruba Networks.
“When you get into actually monitoring the airspace, it comes down to a function of [whether] the AP will support it, and today most don’t.”
ReefEdge collects data from APs by instructing the APs to switch to scan mode. Software RF management suppliers such as AirWave Wireless and WaveLink use the same method, said Chris Kozup, program director at Meta Group.
“The problem is that whenever it’s scanning it’s not maintaining client connectivity,” he noted.
The ReefSwitch 25 costs just less than $1,400 and is designed for remote offices. The switch includes an AP and customers can also connect as many as three APs to the switch.
The small, low-cost switch performs functions such as authentication locally, rather than backhauling those functions to a centralised switch.
The switch includes a local database that could act as an 802.1X authentication server. It can also authenticate against a remote Radius server but will download active users to authenticate locally the next time the user logs onto the network.
The ReefSwitch 25 communicates back to the centralised ReefSwitch 200A Appliance, forwarding RF monitoring information such as rogue detection and allowing remote configuration and upgrades.
Users can limit the amount of bandwidth that communication requires; one ReefEdge customer with a remote office that relies on a 56Kbps connection has limited the connection to 8Kbps.
ReefEdge is also introducing the ReefSwitch 300, a 12-port switch. Users can direct connect APs to the switch or connect the switch to an existing Ethernet switch.
Nancy Gohring writes for InfoWorld