XML: WLAN Managed in Style?
Data about the performance of a wireless LAN network is usually transmitted to management software in simple network management protocol (SNMP) format (see Wireless LAN Class Wars). But some are finding SNMP limiting when describing data about 802.11 networks.
XML -- as some of you no doubt remember -- is a language that allows IT folk to develop their own tags to define how data is interpreted and transmitted between applications (which in this case means the wireless hardware itself and the management app). Developing wireless-specific XML tags could enable vendors to send more data down down the pipe about 802.11 networks than SNMP can represent.
"Anything that improves the amount of information we get is better," says Greg Murphy, COO of wireless LAN management software developer AirWave Wireless Inc. On a recent Unstrung Webinar, Ike Nassi, the CTO of Firetide Inc., even talked up XML as a way of pulling better information from wireless mesh networks.
This idea isn't news in the wired world, where many are already looking to the Web standard as a more sophisticated way to grok what's happening on your network.
But to make XML work for wireless LAN, vendors would need to get together to create XML interfaces on their products and then get together to define some standard XML tags for wireless LAN management.
Potentially, this could make the business of managing wireless LAN networks via software in the data center a whole lot easier, because, rather than having to build software interfaces for separate third-party access points and switched infrastructure, vendors could just build XML interfaces.
But, as Craig Mathias, analyst at the Farpoint Group, pointed out at a recent Aruba Wireless Networks user roundtable, vendors need to step up in order to make XML a viable standard for wireless LAN management.
"Someone has to take the lead," opines Mathias.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung