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Airespace Adds an Appliance

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Using technology derived from its wireless LAN switch product, startup Airespace Inc. has today launched a standalone 802.11 security and management appliance.

Airespace says that the appliance supports the original security and management features offered by the switch, but can be used to support up to 36 access points, via increased memory and a faster processor (compared to 24 on the 4000 switch) and comes with higher capacity uplinks than the original box (see Airespace Takes Off for a rundown of the features of Airespace's switch). The high-capacity uplinks are used to connect the applicance to the switch infrastructure that a customer already has, and to which the access point are connected.

Why this move? Airespace says around half of the 25 customers that are currently using its 4000 switch are actually using it in tandem with an existing Ethernet infrastructure for WLAN management and security.

However, Alan Cohen, VP of marketing at the San Jose, Calif.-based firm, is adamant that a move in the direction of the appliance market is not a move away from the WLAN switch market. "We are absolutely taking no prisoners in winning the wireless switch market," he writes in an email to Unstrung. "The appliance platform is driven by customer need to deliver our capabilities while leveraging their existing Ethernet backbone." IDC analyst Abner Germanow [ed.note: speaking of "taking no prisoners"] figures that the move may well have a lot to do with Airespace's partnership with NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY). "Airespace is trying to figure out how to best serve NEC customers," he says.

Airespace will be competing in this market with startups like Bluesocket Inc., ReefEdge Inc., and Vernier Networks Inc. in the appliance market, as well as established companies like Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ).

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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