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AirMagnet Sniffs Rogues

Wireless LAN sniffer startup AirMagnet Inc. has strengthened the rogue access point detection capabilities of the latest version of its software and is talking up the prospects of tighter integration with major network management systems in the future.

AirMagnet's software allows IT administrators to troubleshoot and monitor their wireless LANs using either dedicated boxes installed in the network itself or walking 'round with an 802.11-enabled laptop.

IT staff have previously been able to track down unauthorized "rogue" access points on the network using AirMagnet's software but actually have to walk around the office to find 'em and shut 'em down [ed. note: never a good option for your average IT guy].

Now the company says that with version four of the AirMagnet distributed software it can block unwanted intruders on the network as well as identity "friendly rogues" -- i.e., signals from the neighboring office -- without anyone having to shift a cheek.

AirMagnet's CEO Dean Au explains that the upgrade can block rogue APs when they are detached on the wireless side by sending an alert back to the wired infrastructure and blocking the AP via the Ethernet port to which it is connected.

Some of AirMagnet's rivals in this increasingly competitive market space -- like Aruba Wireless Networks -- already have sophisticated rogue blocking capabilities. But Au claims that the AirMagnet system is better suited to customers that need to support multivendor access point networks than are switch systems that rely on a controller and specialized access points to work their magic.

Naturally, every startup is feeling the hot breath of major vendors like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) on its neck, as the incumbents start to add features like advanced rogue detection to their own systems.

Ultimately -- to avoid entrenched infrastructure rivals -- it appears that AirMagnet is slowly moving farther up the software stack and into contact with the major network management systems vendors, such as Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM).

This is where Au says he wants the company to be.

AirMagnet already supports CA and HP's Openview and plans to soon add a plug-in for IBM's Tivoli software.

"This is the future for us," says a hopeful Au. "It's what we intend to do -- management and service integration." — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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