Wi-Fi specialist moves out of hardware arena

Colorado Wi-Fi management specialist Roving Planet is to join the stream of Wi-Fi companies expanding to Europe. Its product,...

Colorado Wi-Fi management specialist Roving Planet is to join the stream of Wi-Fi companies expanding to Europe. Its product, Central Site Director, an appliance for managing wireless access points, will be available as a pure software product.

Roving Planet's appliance offers radio frequency management and security policies for access points connected across the corporate network. The company's unique angle is to reduce wireless Lan management to a simple software issue.

Marketing vice president Harry Simpson believes wireless switch suppliers, with their insistence on specialised hardware and proprietary access points, are barking up the wrong tree, claiming that Roving Planet's software can work with anyone's access points and sit on general purpose servers or even network switches.

Roving Planet is even happy to hand over parts of the management function, sometimes selling its product in conjunction with Airwave Wireless' RF management product.

"We are not in the business of selling proprietary hardware," said Simpson. "It is a software-based solution, which we currently sell on a standard Linux system." He added that customers would prefer to run it on hardware from Dell, Hewlett-Packard or IBM, although he expected they will still continue to run dedicated systems when Central Site Director begins shipping on CD-ROMs and is supported on other platforms, starting with IBM.

Roving Planet claims to have around 50 customers in the US, covering airports, universities and hospitals. Its product is most used in Cisco Systems-based wireless networks - "probably 80% of our installed base", said Simpson.

Not surprisingly, given its insistence on software to complement existing hardware, Roving Planet is a partner in Cisco's Avvid scheme.

"For quality of service, all the other solutions on the market either use Vlans, or user- based class of service," said Simpson. "Ours is based on application as well as user."

In future it could sit on Cisco Catalyst's IOS or even on an AS/400 server.

Simpson was certain wireless switch suppliers would come round to his way of thinking. "We are in dialogue with at least one of those guys," he said. "They need us or they will lose a deal to us in partnership with Cisco."

Peter Judge writes for Techworld.com

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