Cisco unveils plan for WLANs

Cisco Systems Ltd. unveiled a plan for managing wireless local area networks (WLANs) on Monday.

The framework, called the Structured Wireless-Aware Network, is intended for an integrated wired and wireless network and includes products and upgrades that enable a network administrator to centrally manage wireless LANs, said Shripati Acharya, head of marketing for the wireless networking business unit at Cisco in San Jose.

“We really want to make managing hundreds of thousands of access points as easy as managing a few access points,” Acharya said.

While scalability is one main driving force behind the management and operations framework, security including rogue (or unapproved) access point detection, as well as making wireless LANs as reliable and secure as LANs, are other reasons for the new network plan, he added.

“Rogues are a huge problem,” Acharya said. “The new framework will allow for early detection of access point rogues. Through the wireless framework, administrators will have the ability to detect interference, locate it, and [have the] ability to work with it.”

Cisco’s plan includes new software upgrades to lay the foundation for a centrally managed network. Starting later this summer the San Jose-based company will deploy a series of software upgrades and hardware designs in order to achieve its main objectives, he said.

Upgrades will be made to Cisco’s Aironet 1100 and 1200 series access points, Cisco Catalyst 3750, 4500 and 6500 series switches and Cisco 2600XM and 3700 series routers.

Other components of the solution include an upgrade to version 2.0 of CiscoWorks Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE) for management and monitoring, Acharya said.

The new version of WLSE will support 500 to 2,500 access points – a significant increase from the 500 that the previous version supported, he added.

Cisco’s Structured Wireless-Aware Network capabilities are available as a Cisco IOS Software upgrade for the access points.

In fourth quarter this year, Cisco said it would develop the WLSE further with a version 2.5, and a corresponding Cisco IOS Software upgrade. Version 2.5 will include the rogue detection technology.

For centralized authentication, Cisco’s Secure Access Control Server will be part of the plan, as will Cisco Compatible client adapters for Radio Frequency (RF) monitoring and measurement.

In other news, Cisco is unveiling the Cisco Aironet 1400 Series Wireless Bridge and all necessary accessories and components at a list price of US$4,999, and is scheduled to ship this month.

Cisco also introduced Cisco Secure Access Control Server Solution Engine 3.2. It has a list price of US$11,995 and will also ship this month. Cisco Systems is on the Web at

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