Legra, the WLAN switch developer, announced today the general availability of its switch and AP platform. The slew of WLAN switch makers that have entered the market over the past year aim to make it easier for IT workers to manage large WLANs. While they all aim to solve the same set of problems, each has its own spin and Legra is no different.
One unique aspect of Legra's switch is the crypto engine, which lives on silicon specially developed by Legra. The chip allows four different engines to run at the same time so users can prioritize traffic through the encryption process. The capability could be important for some users, like hospitals that may want to make sure that critical information such as heart monitoring data is transmitted as quickly as possible. "Email won't impact the mission-critical communications," said Paul DeBaesi, vice president of product management and marketing for Legra.
Legra also builds in a 30 Gb hard drive running Linux with the switch, designed to support third-party applications. The company hasn't launched its partner program but intends to work with other companies to integrate third-party software, which may be important to end users, into the switch.
Legra joins just a few other WLAN switch vendors that perform functions at both layer 2 and layer 3 to get the best of both worlds. The switch largely operates at layer 2 to take advantage of security capabilities but the connection between the switch and the radio occurs at layer 3. That capability means that APs can be placed throughout a campus and route over any IP network to the switch, which can be located in a central data center. Some other switch solutions require the APs to be hardwired directly to the WLAN switch, which is then usually placed in a nearby wiring closet.
Legra also offers two kinds of management platforms designed for large or small implementations.
Competition among WLAN switch vendors is fierce and the strain of that competition is starting to show. Last week, news of layoffs at Trapeze and Vivato sparked discussions of how the market might shake out over the next few years.
DeBaesi thinks Legra is in a good position compared to companies like Trapeze, which he criticized for approaching the market with a "dotcom model." Trapeze may have spent too much too quickly in an effort to impress the market, he says. Legra plans to approach the market more cautiously. "This is a slow growing market. It will take a fundamental shift in the way people view the network," he said. "It will take a while for people to understand that."