Optical/IP Networks

Cisco: Location, Location...

LAS VEGAS -- Interop -- Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) today announced a wireless LAN location appliance intended to help customers track users, goods, and traffic on 802.11 networks.

The Cisco 2700 wireless location appliance is a box that will initially work with Airespace's lightweight access points -- which Cisco acquired when it bought the switch startup in January this year -- to track any stuff with a wireless LAN chip onboard (see Cisco Buys Airespace). Ann Sun, senior manager for wireless and mobility at Cisco, says that Cisco's own access points will also work with the appliance once they are converted to run Airespace's Lightweight Access Point Protocol (LWAPP).

Of course, regular readers will remember that Airespace was very vocal about the potential for location tracking and radio frequency identification (RFID), back when it was a strapping young startup. "Really this is the first product you might describe as jointly produced," opines former Airespacer Alan Cohen, who is now a senior director of product management at Cisco.

Okay, but what can a customer actually do with location tracking?

Security and traffic management will be two of the major initial applications, according to Cohen. The security applications like rogue access point tracking will be familiar to many by now. But the ability to monitor how much traffic hits a certain part of a wireless LAN network at a particular time of the day will make adding capacity in the right place easier, according to Cohen.

Beyond that, applications such as asset tracking and advanced call forwarding and messaging will become important, according to Sun. "We expect to see similar adoption cycles to what we've seen with wireless LAN in enterprise."

"This is the first of a generation of location appliances from Cisco," Sun continues. "Over time, we'll look to extend location to the wired network as well."

Of course, none of this can really start happening until Cisco ports LWAPP to its own access points. But that process is moving along, according to Cohen and Sun.

"It's become a verb" at Cisco, claims Sun. "People ask... 'Have you been LWAPPed?'"

Well, have you?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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