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HP blends WLAN controller into wired switching to support BYOD

HP offers WLAN controller module for campus core chassis and a switch with WLAN control functionality for integrated wired and wireless networking.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has launched a new device to integrate wireless LAN controller functionality into its switching products. The announcement follows closely at the heels of Cisco's recent announcement of the Catalyst 3850 switch that unifies wired and wireless network control at the campus edge.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) introduced the 10500/7500 20G Unified Wired-WLAN Module, a wireless controller blade for its modular 10500 and 7500 switches. These modules can support up to 1,024 access points each. To centralize wireless LAN (WLAN) control, the company also introduced the 830 Unified Wired-WLAN switch series. Available in 8- and 24-port models, the HP 830 is a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch with wireless LAN control functionality that can support up to 60 access points. In conjunction with the new wireless LAN modules for the 10500 and 7500 switches, the 830 can provide local wireless LAN control in a branch office.

The WLAN controller modules are similar to Cisco's Wireless Service Modules for the Catalyst 6500. Cisco also recently announced that the campus edge Catalyst 3850 switch series -- powered by the vendor's Unified Access Data Plane (UADP) application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) -- also offers the same services across wired and wireless infrastructure for security and policy, application visibility and control and network resiliency. The switch can support up to 50 access points.

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Benefits of WLAN as the primary access network

HP also introduced a new User Access Manager and Smart Connect module for its Intelligent Management Center (IMC), which simplifies the deployment and management of policy-based bring your own device (BYOD) access.

"With this BYOD toolset, [HP] looked at how we can provide users with easy access and the best user experience," said Kash Shaikh, senior director of product marketing and technical marketing engineer for HP. "We also looked at the challenge of IT, and sought to simplify management and infrastructure and eliminate the device-by-device configuration method that IT has been forced to use."

The Intelligent Management Center (IMC) User Access Manager and Smart Connect platform will allow for the management of both the wired and wireless networks for network administrators, as well as secure onboarding for employee devices for users through an employee login.

"The new tools will unify both the wired and wireless LAN access. [Network administrators] could connect wired networking devices via Ethernet, but also bring in user's wireless traffic from access points," said Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure research at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

IT wants simplified WLAN controller functionality

As the wireless network becomes more critical to business continuity and more complicated with the addition of employee-owned devices, IT needs a more simplified network infrastructure -- something that wired/wireless network unification can help with, said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group Inc.

"The wireless infrastructure is becoming more important as BYOD initiatives are taking hold," he said. "Instead of managing two separate networks, HP and Cisco are not only unifying the infrastructure and creating wired/wireless combined technologies, but they are also combining the management processes as well."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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