Extreme turns to Motorola for WLAN future

It will resell Motorola's enterprise WLAN gear and develop unified wired and wireless management software

Extreme Networks on Wednesday announced a new set of enterprise wireless LAN products based on Motorola technology as part of a broader partnership that will also produce a unified control system for both wired and wireless infrastructure.

The new series of WLAN controllers and access points, rebranded from Motorola, will hit the market beginning in December. Extreme will continue to offer its current access points, based on technology from Chantry Networks, to existing customers, according to Paul Hooper, vice president and general manager of the volume products group at Extreme.

The more ambitious part of the relationship will be joint development of software to unite wired and wireless so IT departments can manage wired and wireless connections the same way. It will be available as an add-on to ExtremeXOS, Extreme's overarching network operating system, late next year or in early 2010, the companies said. ExtremeXOS currently lets administrators control the overall network centrally through policies.

The additional software, which will work with the new Extreme WLAN gear, will allow for unified control of wired and wireless connections at the edge, so the same controller can handle both types of connections. This edge capability will help networks keep up with the increased speed of WLAN traffic, the companies said.

Customers of both companies have been rethinking the role of wired LANs as employees get used to working on the run and using mobile applications, Motorola and Extreme executives said. The IEEE 802.11n standard, formally approved last month, has helped by eliminating the bandwidth difference between wired and wireless networks, they said. In new deployments, some enterprises aren't building in wired connections at every workstation. Others have noted the same trend, especially in special settings such as universities.

Motorola and Extreme see the unified control software as setting them apart from Cisco Systems, the dominant enterprise player in both wired and wireless. By simplifying management, it can lower costs and increase reliability, Hooper said.

Extreme will ship two Motorola-based WLAN controllers in December, priced starting at $US3,495. A third controller will be available in the first quarter of next year. Also in December, the company will deliver an IEEE 802.11a/b/g access point starting at $US695 and an 802.11a/b/g outdoor access point starting at $US2,295. An 802.11a/b/g/n access point will come in the first quarter of next year. A suite of management tools for those devices, also coming in December, will cost $US4,995.

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