Carrier WiFi

HP's Security Badge

Further news is emerging about the newly released wireless LAN security products from Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ).

Various sources have told Unstrung that HP is rebadging security appliances from Vernier Networks Inc. as part of its new 802.11 enterprise offering.

HP would not comment.

The HP 700wl series includes an access controller unit (the 720wl) that sits at the edge of the network, linked to access points via Ethernet; it handles encryption, user authentication, and policy management. The access controller can be connected back to the 740wl access management server, which centralizes access rights and security management. HP is also offering a unit, called the 760wl, which combines the functionality of the other two boxes for branch office or departmental deployments.

According to sources, these products are actually Vernier's CS 6500 control server, AM 6500 access manager, and IS 6500 integrated solution. The products certainly look extremely similar (see the HP 700wl series here and the Vernier kit here).

Chris Kozup, analyst at the Meta Group Inc. thinks that the HP launch is a step in the right direction but wonders why HP decided to take a distributed approach to managed enterprise wireless LAN rather than integrating this functionality into a switch.

"For HP, this is a good move, they need to have solution," he says. "I'm just curious as to why they didn't embed it in a switch, rather than release yet another access-layer product."

"It could be a time-to-market thing," Kozup adds, answering his own question.

For the startups that currently dominate the WLAN security market, HP's move is very bad news [ed. note: maybe not for Vernier, eh?], as the company follows Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) on the path of centralizing wireless LAN management and security features. (see Extreme Switches Both Ways and Nortel Preps 'Security Switch').

HP's offering will compete with products from Bluesocket Inc., Fortress Technologies, and ReefEdge Inc. (see Security Startups Thrive), as well as startups in the emerging 802.11 switch market, such as Aruba Networks Inc. and Trapeze Networks Inc. (see WLAN Switch Shakeout Looms?).

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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