ReefEdge Simplifies WLAN Management With CA

ReefEdge Inc. has developed a plug-in that allows users of Computer Associates International's (NYSE: CA) Unicenter management software to monitor ReefEdge's wireless LAN (WLAN) system. The move is one of the first big steps towards making the WLAN just another element in the corporate systems management landscape.

The ReefEdge software links the Unicenter console to its ReefEdge Connect server [ed.note: and the thigh bone to the knee bone?], which monitors the data so that system administrators can receive and act on information about WLAN users and the performance of the network the same way they would data about the standard network -- via the Unicenter console.

This means that administrators can install their very own network "velvet rope" to control which users get on an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 802.11b network in the first place -- allowing certain people access to all the data on a corporate intranet, while limiting others to what amounts to a limited-time “guest pass." The ReefEdge system also automatically detects new ReefEdge network elements and passes information about performance and system alerts to the administration.

The ReefEdge Connect server can also link to Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), Radius, and Kerberos-compliant directories, which means that when the system administrator is setting up a new WLAN network he or she can download users' IDs and other pertinent information from the corporate directory.

ReefEdge is one of the first companies to link WLAN networks to company directories, which are arguably the central nervous systems of large corporate setups. This kind of interconnectivity is crucial if WLANs are to truly become part and parcel of the corporate landscape. Other major vendors are likely to offer this sort of connectivity soon. Novell Inc. (Nasdaq: NOVL), for instance, has announced an eDirectory software upgrade that enables administrators to bring resources from wireless LAN networks into the corporate fold.

So what is the importance of plug-in software? After all, Doug Mazlis, ReefEdge's vice president of business development, concedes his company's WLAN monitoring system can be connected to other management software such as IBM Corp.'s (NYSE: IBM) Tivoli or Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (NYSE: HWP) Open View. However, linking to those products will be fiddly -- taking more time, effort, and money than hooking up to Unicenter. Anything that simplifies the integration of WLAN networks into an enterprise environment is likely to appeal to administrators already leery of wireless.

Mazlis says that ReefEdge may develop similar plug-ins for other management systems, since the CA deal is not exclusive. ReefEdge is a startup largely managed by ex-IBM and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) executives. Mazlis does not rule a more wide-ranging partnership with IBM. “There are a lot of ways we could go to market with IBM,” he says. These could include a deal with IBM Global Services, although Mazlis says that ReefEdge already has partnerships with a few dozen systems integrators around the world.

ReefEdge has raised nearly $30 million in two rounds of venture funding since the company started in June 2000. Mazlis says the company is now looking to form strategic -- rather then financial -- partnerships and does not foresee the need to go looking for more venture funding in the near future.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
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