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Cisco to Announce 802.11 Updates

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) will tomorrow attempt to strengthen its stranglehold on the enterprise wireless LAN market with the launch of much anticipated 802.11g-compliant radios for access points and the release of network security and management software, according to sources.

Documents sent by an anonymous source to Unstrung reveal that the networking giant's long awaited 802.11g (54 Mbit/s over 2.4 GHz) radio module for its AP1100 and AP1200 series access points will incorporate hardware support for the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm for increased data security over air links. AES will be supported via an acceleration chip for "high performance (unnoticeable hit on throughput)," according to the PowerPoint slides.

Incorporating AES support will ensure that Cisco access points are compliant with one of the main requirements of the forthcoming 802.11i security upgrade, which is envisioned by many in the industry as an important milestone in the WLAN road (see 802.11 Security Issues Sorted?). However, enterprise users that wish to take advantage of the security standard will still need to upgrade many older client cards to support 802.11i when it is eventually ratified (see WLAN Issues Exposed for more on this).

Cisco has said that it will make the next version of its Wireless LAN Solution Engine (WLSE) centralized security and management software available in the fourth quarter (see Cisco's Path to Switchdom). Another source that Unstrung spoke to expects the new code will be made generally available tomorrow.

As previously reported, the upgrade to the software will include the following features:

  • Rogue access point detection
  • Radio (RF) channel management
  • The ability to use access points as security monitors
  • A 'Location Manager' that maps the position and status of APs in a network on a handy chart for network managers
Analysts see all of these upgrades as necessary for the incumbent, which is playing catchup on the technology front with some of the wireless LAN switch and appliance startups (see SWAN Bucks Up Ducklings).

A spokeswoman for Cisco told Unstrung that she could not comment on what will be unveiled by the company, at least not until tomorrow.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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