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Wired, wireless access control unified with HP ProCurve module

HP ProCurve today announced a module to its 5300 switch that unifies the wired and wireless networks and makes them centrally manageable.

Hewlett-Packard's ProCurve networking division today announced that it has tamed both the wired and wireless beasts and trained them to work together as one unified team.

The announcement came in the form of the ProCurve 5300 xl Wireless Edge Services Module, with coordinated ProCurve Radio Ports.

The module, when added to the 5300 switch, essentially marries the wired and wireless networks and makes them manageable through one pane of glass, the ProCurve Manager suite. Through the manager, network administrators can set and enforce security access control policies and can configure wired and wireless devices for the entire network in one central location, said Darla Sommerville, vice president and general manager for ProCurve in the Americas.

"You can manage the wired and wireless infrastructure with one set of tools," she said.

Having a single policy set for the wired and wireless networks allows for consistent authentication through both, and it can reduce overall operational costs as well, Sommerville said. The module also boosts network security, adding in WLAN and LAN access control features to protect against accidental or malicious attacks.

William Souder, director of computing and network services at Berry College in Rome, Ga., said he plans to add the module to the school's existing ProCurve environment.

"A big advantage is the management capability of ProCurve's IDM software," Souder said. "Now I can set policy once and it is applied at the edge of the network regardless [of whether] the user connects over wired or wireless."

That single policy set is helpful, Souder said, because his staff will not have to master a "convoluted wireless solution. Whatever policy you set at the core, or at the 5300, applies to both wireless and wired ports."

From a liability standpoint, a college environment is a perfect fit for the module, according to Souder. Right now, the network is split into two virtual LANs (VLANs): one for administrative access and one for students and others that grants access to the Internet only. That policy protects sensitive information such as student records and other documentation.

"We just want to be sure everything is protected on all fronts," Souder said.

Single-point management through the ProCurve Manager suite, which Souder calls a "management powerhouse," lets him look at every facet of the network.

"It's very powerful, very simpl[e]," he said, adding that it alleviates the trouble of "having to manage two completely separate technologies that aren't related in any way," which Berry College had with its old system.

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The ProCurve 5300 x1 Wireless Edge Services Module fits in with ProCurve's vision of moving network services from the core to the edge, called the Adaptive EDGE Architecture, Sommerville said.

The module integrates advanced wireless services into the ProCurve Switch 5300 x1 series. It works in conjunction with new single- and dual-radio ports -- light access points -- which enable secure, wireless network access control (NAC), centralized RF management, Web authentication, fast wireless client roaming, Quality of Service (QoS), self-healing, and rogue access point detection, according to ProCurve Americas product manager Andre Kindness.

Along with the module, HP ProCurve today also announced a new access point for SMBs, with built-in access control and QoS to protect a company's network. The ProCurve Access Point 530 is a secure, dual-radio standalone access point, Kindness said.

Designed specifically for companies with several remote offices, the Access Point 530 has built-in support from ProCurve's Identity Driven Manager access control software that enables edge-enforced, per-user, identity-driven access control lists, Kindness said. Also, in the event of a WAN link failure, the Access Point 530 features RADIUS services to keep the site up and running.

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