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WLAN Love-Fest

Just in time for Valentine's day, the enterprise wireless LAN market has been overtaken with a new spirit of openness and partnership, as vendors open up locations, help to manage more APs, and cooperate on security sensors

Aruba's Track Meet
Aruba Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: ARUN), the largest startup still standing in the wireless LAN switch market, is opening up its location tracking interface so that its network infrastructure can broadcast tracking information to third party applications.

Aruba claims it made the move as more applications, in the supply chain, retail, and healthcare markets require detailed location information. The firm reports that location software developer Ekahau Inc. has demonstrated interoperability with the location application programming interface (API).

Aruba's location API allows an external application to request and receive 3D coordinates for the location of any 802.11 device or tag. The interface also provides a mechanism for exporting site survey floor plans, RF coverage maps, and "raw data" such as AP-to-AP signal strength to other applications.

Moving toward working with third parties on location services, Aruba is following in the footsteps of WLAN market leader Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO). Cisco already has partnerships with companies like AeroScout in the location arena.

Bluesocket Manages Up
Wireless LAN controller startup Bluesocket Inc. extended its BlueView Management System (BVMS) software so users can now centrally manage access points made by Cisco, Proxim Wireless Corp. , Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL), and 3Com Corp. (Nasdaq: COMS), as well as Bluesocket's own APs, from its console.

According to Bluesocket, that capability is particularly important for customers who already have an installed base of standalone APs they wish to manage.

Bluesocket is stealing a march on the direction that the whole WLAN industry appears to be -- slowly -- moving in. While firms like AirWave Wireless Inc. continue to add high-level management capabilities for APs to its software suite, the industry has typically stuck with single-vendor systems.

This is changing as more firms support third party APs and management standards -- such as the lightweight access point protocol (LWAPP) -- get more industry support. (See LWAPP Pushed Through.)

Network Chemistry Senses Partnership
WLAN security startup Network Chemistry Inc. is licensing its sensor software to Xirrus Inc. , which has a multi-radio access point that promises coverage, management, and security in the workplace from one box.

Network Chemistry has long advocated dedicated security monitoring devices that sit in the AP network and "listen" for security problems, rather than dual-function APs that both secure the network and transmit user data.

Xirrus, however, has enough transmitters on its pizza-shaped APs to satisfy Network Chemistry's radio requirements. Indeed, the firm's 16-radio device, which it claims can offer nearly one gigabyte of capacity, has 12 distinct 802.11a (54 Mbit/s over 5GHz) and four configurable b/g radios.

"[Users] can dedicate separate radios to the sensors," says Brian de Haaf, VP of product management and marketing at Network Chemistry.

The deal adds another option for security-conscious users in market where there is already a bewildering array of network sniffing and sensor software, including free passive sniffers, handheld applications, and dedicated devices. (See Sniffing + Seeing = What?.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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