Cisco's WiFi Flight Plan

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) plans to quickly integrate Airespace Inc. products into its own product portfolio rather than selling them as standalone products, Unstrung has learned.

Details of the integration plan are laid out in a PowerPoint presentation seen by Unstrung. According to the document, which is dated January 2005, Cisco is planning a three-stage integration process that will take around a year after the closing of the Airespace acquisition, which is expected to happen within a month (see Cisco Buys Airespace).

Sources familiar with the networking company's plans point out, however, that the roadmap laid out in the document is by no means cast in stone and may have changed somewhat already.

A spokeswoman for Cisco told Unstrung that the company could not comment on integration plans until after the buyout was finished.

With that in mind, here are some of the key elements the presentation lays out:

Stage one, two solutions: When the Airespace acquisition closes, which should happen within the next month, the document says that Cisco plans to offer customers "the best of both worlds," selecting the Cisco or Airespace system that best meets their requirements.

Sources say Cisco has so far indicated that some Airespace switches will never become Cisco products, notably the 4012 and 4024 switches. Some of the lower-end products have a better shot at becoming standalone Cisco products, including the 4202, the 4204, and the 3500, described by Cisco as wireless LAN controllers, and the WLSE-ACS "management appliance." These should be announced 90 days after the close, according to the sources.

Stage two, near-term integration: Within three to six months after the close, the slide deck says, Cisco will incorporate support for the lightweight access point protocol (LWAPP) into its Aironet line of access points (see Cisco's Airespace Program). The firm apparently also plans to integrate more of Airespace's management capabilities into its own wireless LAN solutions engine (WLSE) platform, according to the document.

Stage three, long-term integration: Within nine to twelve months of the acquisition closing, much of the Airespace product line will become a subset of Cisco's portfolio, but an increasing number of network infrastructure devices will have the Airespace management functionality embedded. These could include an "Airespace router" and stackable switch.

It is also possible that some Airespace concepts could live on under Cisco tutelage. The firm's RFID asset tracking tag is slated for launch in 2005, according to the document. The high-capacity IRAP access point is also listed on the product schedule (see Airespace: MISO Soup).

Maybe Cisco will think of something other than IRAP, to call it.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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