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Aruba Doffs Its CAPWAP

The push for greater interoperability between third-party access points and wireless LAN switch systems is gaining ground, with Aruba Wireless Networks throwing its hat into the ring by publishing a new paper for the Control And Provisioning of Wireless Access Points (CAPWAP) group at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Interoperability between third-party access points and the newish breed of wireless LAN switch products has long been one of the big issues that the industry hasn't talked too much about. Airespace Inc. tried to push its lightweight access point protocol (LWAPP) as a means of allowing access points to talk to switch and vice versa, but -- until recently -- that initiative looked to be dead in the water (see Cisco's Airespace Program).

But two forces are now starting to drive the market in the direction of greater interoperability. The falling prices of enterprise-class access points is making it impractical for vendors to continue offering own-brand APs as part of the switching system in the long term. While, as Unstrung predicted, Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) acquisition of Airespace Inc. has caused other players to take another look at interoperability, since it's the features not the hardware that counts (see The Switch Fix Is In) Aruba is pushing what it describes as a simplified structure for CAPWAP. The firm wants to standardize the discovery and authentication protocol for APs connecting to switches allowing vendors to handle multiple control protocols, which could be supported at the switch level.

Aruba has already started to look towards opening up its source code, while startup rival Trapeze Networks Inc. has announced its own Open Access Point Initiative (OAPI) (see Aruba Plots Open Source).

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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