ReefEdge Connect System 3.0 targets WLAN security

ReefEdge Inc. this week takes the wraps off the latest version of its wireless LAN (WLAN) security gateway that features a way to help network executives enforce bandwidth and application use on WLAN access point.

ReefEdge Connect System 3.0 is based on the hardware appliance called the Edge Controller that’s plugged into any IEEE 802.11 access point to enforce security policies over wireless networks. These requirements might be user authentication, enforcement of VPN encryption before sending data, as well as a gateway firewall between the wireless and wired network. The third version of the ReefEdge product adds a way to enforce these security policies and provide bandwidth allocation for the SpectraLink 802.11b mobile phones for voice communications over wireless.

“Connect System 3.0 provides a way for managers to run voice and data on a single wireless infrastructure and provide security policies,” says ReefEdge chief technology officer Sandep Singhal.

Connect System 3.0, which starts at $7,500 per wireless LAN segment, will support the SpectraLink’s 802/11b mobile phone in the first release out this month but ReefEdge has plans to support Symbol Technologies voice-over-IP phones in the future as well.

The product’s Edge Controller, managed by Web browser, lets the security manager register any SpectraLink phones to be used on the WLAN network and dedicate wireless bandwidth those phones can use.

“Voice is very high bandwidth,” says Singhal, estimating that the 802.11b LAN can sustain about 6 megabits of IP throughput and probably no more than 15 simultaneous calls at one time on the WLAN.

Voice-over-IP on WLANs is a new area of interest for organizations, but the bandwidth considerations have already convinced some network managers than voice is not a good application to run on WLANs at present.

“We use 802.11b LANs in our manufacturing plants, the Cisco access points, but we don’t allow voice through them,” says Larry Graham, global manager, automatic identification technology and distributed computing at General Motors. The bandwidth demands of voice on the WLAN are simply too great to make running voice over IP a priority at present in the GM manufacturing environment.