Bridgewater intros WLAN manager

Straight from the nation’s capital, Bridgewater Systems Inc. announced this week a new addition to its 802.11 suite of products.

Slated to be available for trials in the second quarter of 2003, the Wi-Fi Service Manager is a product for carriers and managed service providers that would allow them to centrally and remotely monitor and manage about 1,000 enterprise wireless LANs (WLANs).

“Enterprises want WLANs for a number of reasons such as reduced cabling and wiring costs, and increased employee mobility and productivity. But in many cases they actually lack the IT staff or IT expertise to deploy and manage these WLANs,” said Chris Luzine, product manager, Wi-Fi Service Manager at Bridgewater in Ottawa. “So Bridgewater is certainly of the opinion that there is an opportunity for these carriers and managed service providers to sell a managed WLAN service to enterprises.” There is already a lucrative market for managed LAN services in Canada, Luzine added.

Running on Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Solaris platform, the Wi-Fi Service Manager is deployed at the carrier’s site, and a piece of premise equipment is installed at the enterprise site. This way the carrier can monitor the enterprise’s WLAN and deploy firmware and software out to the Wi-Fi access points without dispatching people to the enterprise sites.

“I think the key points of the Wi-Fi Service Manager are the abilities to grant and deny access, and to provide different levels of access for employees versus visiting partners,” Luzine said.

“It also has the ability to do the remote monitoring of the enterprise WLAN with the aim of really reducing the number of service calls the carrier gets from the enterprise and this is done proactively by detecting faults and fixing them before the enterprise is actively aware.”

Luzine added that it would also reduce “truckroll” – the number of times a carrier would have to dispatch personnel to a site.

For example, if a carrier managed 1,000 enterprise WLANs and each had 10 access points, the carrier could perform a software upgrade on all 10,000 access points with one command.

Also, Wi-Fi Service Manager can be custom-configured to integrate with a carrier’s or managed service provider’s customer relationship management (CRM) and billing applications.

While the Wi-Fi Service Manager is 802.11-enabled, it doesn’t matter which iteration it is.

“It’s in a sense, agnostic,” Luzine said.

Luzine said the Wi-Fi Service Manager has the ability to authenticate and authorize three different types of users – employees, visitors and the general public. Employees would be able to gain access to the private enterprise network, while visitors, such as clients, would be able to gain access to the Internet to tunnel back to their own corporate network.

The Wi-Fi Service Manager is set to be demonstrated at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association’s (CTIA’s) Wireless 2003 Convention in New Orleans from Mar. 17 to 19.

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