New partnership helps Intersil target road warriors

Irvine, Calif.’s Intersil has announced a strategic partnership with Sygate Technologies, Inc., one the company says will enable manufacturers of wireless LAN systems to offer its end users an easy-to-set-up wireless network.

The deal, which also calls for Intersil to make a “mid-seven figure” investment in Fremont, Calif.-based Sygate (formerly Sybergen Networks, Inc.), is one of a number of partnerships Intersil has made since it launched its first PRISM chips five years ago. Company spokesperson John Allen said Intersil will continue forging new partnerships in an effort to provide an end-to-end solution to its customers, who are increasingly looking to reduce the time to market for its product lines.

“When we go to one of our customers who’s trying to field a wireless system, we can say, ‘Look, we got everything: we got the chip sets; the reference designs; we’ll show you how to build it. But even beyond that, we’ll give you the software that makes your system easy for your end user to use,'” Allen explained.

According to Allen, Intersil sees Sygate’s software as especially useful to enterprises with mobile employees.

“Normally if you go from one office to another, when you fire up (your computer) you may have to do a little network management to get associated with the access point in that area, or you may have to do something with IP addressing,” he said. “Sygate just does all of that stuff for you.”

John DeSantis, Sygate’s president and CEO, said Sygate’s software solution is designed to allow users to use a network without knowing networking. The company has already been supplying the software to Aironet, recently acquired by Cisco Systems, for its WLAN system. Intersil also supplies Aironet with PRISM chips.

“Those agreements created the link with Intersil,” DeSantis noted. “By working with Intersil, we’re able to get our product right on the reference design for the (PRISM chip sets). So that gives us a back door to all of Intersil’s customers: Cisco, Aironet, Proxim and anybody else that’s using the Intersil technology will now be using our technology as a given.”

Analysts say Intersil holds a dominant market share in supplying chips for ieee802.11b-compliant WLAN systems. The 11b specification allows wireless LANs to operate at up to 11Mbps.

Iain Grant, an analyst with the Yankee Group in Canada in Brockville, Ont., said the Intersil-Sygate partnership may also have positive benefits for home users of WLAN systems, as Sygate’s software enables Internet sharing and protects against Internet hacking.

“Insofar as you take a hot topic like wireless LANs, and you bundle in some firewall capability, that’s good news for everybody,” Grant said.

“We think mobile Internet access and Internet security are really inseparable issues,” DeSantis added. “We’re not just creating a personal firewall that stands alone on the device and would have to be managed by the user himself. We’re creating a personal firewall that could be managed by the enterprise; policies set by IT administrators can be pushed out to users.

“That’s a benefit for a lot of enterprises (that) don’t want mobile users having to worry about the protection of their own laptops,” he said.