Proxim introduced today upgrades to its enterprise-grade Orinoco AP-2000 access point: Most of the new features are geared toward making it easier for network administrators to manage their wireless networks.
Because the AP includes two slots for multiple radios, customers can now dedicate one radio for repeating traffic. For example, one slot can be used for an 802.11b radio that may serve customers on one end of a hotel floor. The second slot can contain an 802.11g radio, which offers a wired Ethernet link across the floor to another AP at the other end. "It's like a wired Ethernet link across the building, but you don't have to do an Ethernet drop," said Ben Gibson, director of marketing for Proxim.
Because the repeating function uses a second radio, the traffic doesn't impact the bandwidth available to end users. Gibson expects the capability to appeal to managers of wharehouses or other large, open spaces where stringing Ethernet wires may prove difficult. "Essentially you're extending the cells to make a hot zone, rather than a hot spot," he said.
Another new feature for the AP-2000 is rogue AP detection. The APs detect nearby unauthorized APs by switching to scan mode. Proxim recommends that customers employ tools from Wavelink or another SNMP-based tool to receive alerts when rogue APs are detected.
Other upgrades include adaptive power control and a central control function that allows customers to centrally configure and update multiple APs at one time.
Another new tool for network administers is support for SNMPv3 and SSL secure management interfaces. Gibson has noticed recent attention on the fact that in many cases administrators use SNMP to make central adjustments to WLANs but don't secure the SNMP traffic. Support for SNMPv3 and SSL closes that security hole, he said.
The new network management capabilities address some of the same issues that WLAN switch vendors are tackling because Gibson doesn't think the market needs WLAN switches just yet, although Proxim offers a WLAN switch. "We won't see the market move in a more broad scale toward that architecture until there's a heavy application requirement to do so," he said. "It has to go beyond just data over Wi-Fi."
Once applications such as voice over Wi-Fi realize more demand, enterprises will begin to feel a real need for switch products, he says. However, he notes that current switch products don't have all the functionality, such as QoS, required to support applications such as voice.