Trapeze swings into virtualized WLANs

Trapeze Networks Inc. next week is scheduled to release software it says can be used to divvy up a wireless LAN into 64 logical networks that cater to different groups of users and applications.

The new virtualization software for Trapeze’s WLAN switch supports assignment of authentication, access, encryption and other security policies to different groups even though they share the same physical infrastructure of WLAN access points.

With the software, logical wireless networks also can be linked to 64 virtual wire-based LANs.

Rival vendors including Cisco Systems Inc. and Symbol Technologies Inc. have offered the same basic capability. But none of them currently let customers layer so many logical networks onto the access points, says Bruce van Nice, vice president of marketing for Trapeze.

Trapeze had offered a version of the technology that allowed for just two logical networks for each access point. The company’s revamped switch software, Mobility System 3.0, increases this to 32 per radio, with each thin access point having two radios.

Logical networks are created by giving each access point multiple Basic Service Set Identifiers (BSSID), which are essentially the media access control addresses of access points. Each BSSID has a test string that identifies the network to the client devices and identifies the access point’s capabilities. Those capabilities, such as which authentication protocol or encryption scheme to use, can be different for each BSSID.

Also new in this release is a revamped Web interface for administering the Trapeze WLAN.

Trapeze also has introduced a Web application that lets someone like a receptionist quickly create network access accounts on a separate virtual WLAN for visitors, such as customers or contractors. Such a logical network lets them access the Internet, for example, without putting corporate servers at risk.

The software is available as a free upgrade for Trapeze customers and comes standard on newly acquired switches.

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