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Vendors look to fuse wired, wireless networks

As wireless networking vendors strive to integrate wired and wireless networks, Colubris has unveiled a product family that leverages its new vision for network unification.

Wireless networking vendors, spurred by the promised of centralized control, are moving to integrate wired and wireless networks.

Fused wired-wireless platforms are also a relief to enterprise IT pocketbooks, as they reduce the hefty costs and technical complexities of maintaining a separate wireless switch overlay network.

Aaron Vance, senior analyst at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Synergy Research Group Inc., said companies are beginning to realize how much they need and want an integrated network.

"IT managers are always trying to simplify their networks, so introducing an overlay solution into the fray is against what they'd ultimately like to do," Vance said. "The integration of wired and wireless onto a single platform is an IT nirvana for wireless management and control."

Tips for a successful wired-wireless network integration

Correspondingly, on Tuesday wireless LAN hardware maker Colubris Networks Inc. launched a family of WLAN controllers that work exclusively with Colubris' access points to improve voice services and integrate wired and wireless networks.

Colubris' new product line includes the InMotion MultiService Controller (MSC) 5500, which supports up to 200 access points, and the InMotion MSC 5200, which supports up to 25 access points.

"MultiService" references the multiple applications and features -- to include automatic self-configuration and authentication for the devices, public and guest access rights, as well as enhanced wireless VoIP -- bundled in controllers and available to clients via access points.

According to Greg Collins, senior director of WLAN research at Redwood City, Calif.-based research firm Dell'Oro Group, previous enterprise WLAN deployments had thousands of access points acting independently. Now, emerging approaches from vendors like Colubris centralize control and manage thousands of nodes from a single focal point.

Collins added, "We really think it will push WLAN into more enterprises as it lowers the pain threshold for IT professionals securing the WLAN."

Michael Welts, vice president of marketing at Waltham, Mass.-based Colubris, said the InMotion MSC family wired-wireless integration is made possible by the Colubris TriPlane architecture and its new Unified Services Network vision.

"TriPlane architecture is dramatically different than what's out on the market right now," Welts said. "We built this next generation MultiService controller to deliver scale to the edge by continuing our vision of distributed intelligence throughout the system."

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While Colubris does have an innovative architecture, Vance said it still has its work cut out because competitors are also focused on integrating wired and wireless networks. For example, Cisco Systems Inc.'s blades morph its existing Ethernet switches into WLAN switches and Aruba Networks Inc. sells controllers that enforce security policies for both network entities.

Vance said Symbol Technologies Inc. has a legacy in this space as well, and new entrants to this space include Extreme Networks Inc., 3Com Corp. and Nortel Networks Ltd.

Both available in July, the entry-level MSC 5200 will start at $4,800 and the MSC 5500 will start at $16,000.

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