VOWLAN, metro mesh, and security are all hot topics for Cisco now that it has swallowed Airespace

April 26, 2005

2 Min Read
Cisco Lays Out Airespace Plans

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has finally started to reveal more detail about how it will integrate 802.11 products and technology from its acquisition of switch startup Airespace earlier this year (see Cisco Buys Airespace).

Cisco will be announcing a steady stream of new wireless LAN kit derived from the acquisition, according to one of the two new heads at Cisco's wireless networking business unit, VP of engineering, Dave Leonard. Former Airespace CEO Brett Galloway is the other half of this WiFi double team, acting as vice president and general manager for the unit.

In a nutshell, Cisco plans to use Airespace's lightweight access point protocol (LWAPP) as a big part of the glue that will join the separate offerings together (see Cisco's Airespace Program). Initially, Cisco will make its existing standalone access points work with LWAPP, and then incorporate the technology into switches and routers. As expected, the firm will kill the Airespace switch line, but continue to sell the management appliances and skinny access points, under the Cisco name. The appliances apparently made up around 75 percent of Airespace's business before the buyout.

"The things we're talking about here are not intended to be long term, they're being worked on right now," says Leonard. Cisco intends to announce the first fruits of the merger next week at the Networld+Interop show in Las vegas.

Unsurprisingly, Cisco isn't revealing specific details of its integration roadmap. But Galloway and Leonard are more than happy to talk about some of the applications and services that the merger will enable.

Voice over WLAN is one of the whizz-bang applications that both Airespace and Cisco were already, er, vocal about before the merger. Like many other vendors, Cisco is expecting that the arrival in volume of combined WLAN and cellular handsets will help drive the market.

"The ... new thing is dual-mode -- it's very exciting to our customers," says Leonard (see Report Eyes Convergence Glitch).

Combining wireline and wireless security is another item on the to-do list. "A lot of the components and a lot of the threats are the same," points out Galloway, although he doesn't expand on what Cisco plans in this area.

Outdoor mesh wireless LAN is another hot topic for Galloway. Galloway says that the firm is looking at such technology for public safety applications, extended campuses and the like. Cisco is said to already be working on a two-radio system with Airespace but hasn't offered any concrete details on such a product (see Gorillas in the Mesh).

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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