SWAN Bucks Up Ducklings

Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) plan to gradually add more management and security features to its existing networking infrastructure may buy wireless LAN switch startups valuable time to get some customers, according to Meta Group Inc. analyst Chris Kozup.

Kozup reckons that Cisco's initial focus of adding more security and management features to its standalone access points -- via its "confusing" structured wireless-aware networked (SWAN) infrastructure enhancement plans -- will give the young companies more time to push their concept of controlling 802.11 networks via wireless LAN switches to customers (see Cisco's Path to Switchdom for a rundown of the SWAN roadmap).

"I think a lot of guys breathed a sigh of relief when Cisco came out with this announcement… rather than a switch product," Kozup says.

In fact, Cisco is not due to bring out additional software for handling WLAN management via existing switches until 2004. Kozup thinks that this means the startups have a window of opportunity to try and shift some product that will remain open until the first or second quarter of next year.

George Prodan, senior VP of marketing at Trapeze Networks Inc. commented, when his company launched in April, that the startups have a year to make their mark in this market or be shot (!) (see Trapeze's High Wireless Act). If Kozup is correct, then Cisco's SWAN means a temporary reprieve for the young 'uns.

However, it may only be a stay of execution.

Kozup notes that he has not seen any customer activity around products from the likes of Aruba Networks Inc., Airespace Inc., Trapeze, and others yet.

"I've had customers ask me about [the startups]," he allows. "But they seem to be buying Cisco and Symbol." — Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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