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Roving into enterprise Wi-Fi management

Combining security and management, Roving Planet's updated WLAN software suite promises to manage multivendor systems -- a feature that's becoming critical for large companies.

3…2…1… Roving Planet Inc. has successfully launched its new enterprise-class, vendor-neutral wireless LAN software suite, joining an increasingly crowded group of companies orbiting the Wi-Fi management market.

The Commander Suite 3.0 Enterprise Edition ups the ante on Roving Planet's flagship product by adding the ability to centrally secure, scale, monitor and manage enterprise-class Wi-Fi networks, regardless of vendor.

With this announcement, the Westminster, Colo.-based vendor hopes to provide a scalable approach to network security and visibility.

Available as integrated software modules or in standalone packages, the Enterprise Edition combines 12 different security and management features such as authentication, authorization and guest access management, as well as time- and location-based controls.

The suite enables large businesses to set security policies for network admission and automatically generate reports to show correlation between security events and network activity.

William Terrill, senior analyst with Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group, said the augmented Enterprise Edition includes new tracking and traffic management features that the previous Commander suite lacked.

According to Terrill, Roving Planet isn't doing anything new with this announcement; it's actually bundling features similar to those offered by competitors -- such as Cisco Systems Inc., Aruba Wireless Networks Inc. and Trapeze Networks Inc. -- and tailoring the bundle to enterprise needs.

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While those features are significant in today's WLAN management world, Terrill said a different Enterprise Edition feature will be important tomorrow: simultaneous management of hardware from multiple vendors.

"Many enterprises have chosen one vendor and they don't have a huge wireless installed based yet, but that's changing rapidly," Terrill said. "Having a software solution that allows them to manage and secure the whole system regardless of vendor is going to become more important over the next year or two."

Greg Mesch, president and CEO of Roving Planet, said the software's vendor neutral approach eases the pain of growing business trends, such as dispersed workforces and merging companies.

According to Terrill, the product is not perfect for greenfield WLAN implementation. Instead, an ideal customer is one that needs a single console to manage security, wireless access points and back-end elements like tracking and reporting.

Terrill added, "They do seem to have a very complete suite now."

The Commander Suite 3.0 Enterprise Edition, available immediately, starts at $300 and goes as low as $75 per access point depending on the ordered amount. A 100 AP installation would come with a price tag of approximately $25,000.

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