Cisco adds wireless to flagship switch

Cisco has unveiled a wireless Lan hardware module for the 6500 platform, along with an updated wireless management application...

Cisco has unveiled a wireless Lan hardware module for the 6500 platform, along with an updated wireless management application and an access point (AP) suited to outdoor as well as indoor use.

The introductions are the latest steps in the rollout of the Cisco Structured Wireless-Aware Network (Swan), the networking giant's wireless Lan vision launched a year ago. Wi-Fi is now moving toward large-enterprise scale and mobile applications such as campus voice calling.

The Wireless Lan Services Module (WLSM) for Cisco's Catalyst 6500 switch can support as many as 300 APs and 6,000 users. It is designed as the central element of wireless Lans for an entire enterprise, with wireless users able to connect securely through tunnels across a Lan or Wan.

Cisco also unveiled its CiscoWorks Wireless Lan Solution Engine (WLSE) Version 2.7, an update to a centralised management application that can find failed APs and adjust others to restore coverage. Among other enhancements, it also automates the process of adjusting AP power and channels to optimise coverage.

Cisco's latest enhancements, including fast handoffs between APs, could help large enterprises with wireless Lans move from portability in the office to true mobility, according to IDC analyst Abner Germanow.

The company also unveiled the Cisco Aironet 1300 Series Outdoor AP/Bridge, which can be used for outdoor hotspots or for building-to-building connections and temporary networks. The product is set to ship this month for $1,299.

The WSLM can be ordered now. It is expected to ship in June with a US list price of $18,000 for the module and a licence for support of as many as 150 APs. To support more APs, customers need to either have an existing Enterprise Plus IP license for Cisco IOS (Internetwork Operating System) or buy an additional IOS license for a US list price of $8,000. WLSE 2.7 is available now at no additional cost for customers with SmartNet Maintenance.

Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service

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