Chantry extends its wireless family

Chantry Networks Inc., a provider of wireless LAN (WLAN) solutions, announced on Monday that it has extended its BeaconWorks family of products to include IEEE 802.11 a/b/g compliance and various access point configuration choices.

The company said it decided to split its two core products off into separate families to help make it easier for organizations that want to deploy Wi-Fi technology, but aren’t sure of their long-term requirements.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that the enterprise customers are looking at a phased deployment,” said Tom Racca, vice-president of marketing at Waltham, Mass.-based Chantry Networks. “They want to start smaller and grow and rather than having to buy into a larger-scale system today and grow into it, we are saying, buy into the right size that you need today and upgrade when you are ready.”

In order to make this a reality, Chantry has separated its BeaconMaster (BM) product suite into two lines — the BM 100 series and the BM 1000 series. The BM 100 series supports the BM-105, the BM-115, the BM-130 and the BM-160. The number following the BM corresponds to the number of BeaconPoints the machine can support.

According to Racca, the BeaconPoints are the access points that sit on the end of the network and do all the handshaking between the client and the BeaconMaster. After accessing a client, whether it be a laptop or a PDA, the BeaconPoints then tunnel back to the BeaconMaster for all authentication.

The second arm of the line, the BM 1000 series, has gigabit Ethernet support and hosts the BM-1100 and BM-1200, which support 100 and 200 access points respectively.

The hardware platform used in the 100 series is the same regardless if an organization chooses the BM-105, which supports five access points or the BM-115, which supports 15 access points, Racca noted. The same applies for the 1000 series, which means that if an enterprise wanted to upgrade from the BM-105 to the BM-160, this could all be done by purchasing new software not the more expensive hardware.

Racca added that the two systems also speak to each other. If an organization wasn’t ready for a network consisting only of BM 1000s now, but wanted to try the product within its network of BM 100s, Racca said the two products will integrate and communicate together seamlessly.

“They can still back each other up, they can still migrate users across. You…can seamlessly mix and match them into your network,” he noted.

With its new extended BM 100 and 1000 families, Chantry Networks’ new product lines seem to be along the same path that wireless communications advisory firm Farpoint Group is suggesting its clients take.

Craig J. Mathias, a principal at Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass., said that when establishing a product family, it’s easier to start big and go small than it is to start small and try to get big.

“It’s pretty difficult to build big systems, but if you can build a big one than you can build a little one,” he noted.

This flexibility is exactly what Chantry’s Racca said has been introduced with the two new BeaconMaster families.

Mathias said that ideally when it comes to implementing WLANs, organizations should have a hierarchical family of hardware products, so that they can start small and get larger and the smaller networks can become part of a bigger installation so that they do not wind up becoming obsolete.

Mathias added that when implementing wireless technology it is very important for businesses to do as little disruption or modification to the wired infrastructure as possible. He noted that whatever a company is doing on a wired network, “we just want to build on that.”

“We don’t want to come in with an entirely different solution and say ‘okay, all this wired stuff has to be changed, you’ve got to redefine your VLANs (virtual LANs).’ It just doesn’t work. IT managers are very conservative people and they view any disruption to their current operation as an opportunity for unscheduled overtime and that’s to be avoided,” Mathias said.

According to Chantry networks, its BeaconMaster product starts at US$8,000 with BeaconPoints starting at US$395.