Trapeze introduced today a wireless LAN switch designed for remote offices: The company joins a host of others who are addressing the wireless needs of branch offices. The Trapeze MXR-2 switch can support up to three access points and offers all the same features at Trapeze's larger capacity switches. The company built the switch from the ground up in order to deliver a product with the same feature set as its other switches but at a lower cost for customers. "The value for the customer is they don't have to think of the branch differently than the headquarters," said Bruce Van Nice, director of product marketing for Trapeze. "That's a useful thing because network managers don't like inconsistencies."
The switch costs $995 and APs range from $350 to $550.
Van Nice said the MXR-2 combined with Trapeze access points has some advantages over competing products. Some vendors offer enterprises fat APs for the remote offices instead of using a switch in the remote office. Van Nice said that architecture typically compromises the available features and the APs typically end up costing more than a switch designed for remote offices combined with dumb APs. Also, the architecture could require central administrators to manage and configure the remote APs separately rather than on an aggregated basis, Van Nice said.
The local switch also means that branch offices don't go down if the network at headquarters fails because the local switch handles security, authentication, and other functions.
Airespace offers an AP designed for remote offices that communicates over the wide area network with a switch at headquarters. The APs cost $750. ReefEdge offers a combined switch and access point designed for remote offices that costs $1,490.
Other solutions are also available from vendors such as AirWave which offers a management platform designed for enterprises that have as many as thousands of remote APs made by different companies.
The Trapeze product as well as the others indicate that enterprises are increasingly looking to manage their remote offices. Trapeze has noticed customers hoping to use their remote wireless LANs in interesting ways. For example, one Trapeze customer is a financial services company that hopes to offer secured access to the Internet for customers who visit the office, in addition to using the wireless access internally for connectivity.