Enterasys enhances Wi-Fi management, 802.11n performance

Network administrators can now classify users into different groups

A new version of Enterasys' Wi-Fi software simplifies network management and operations, and improves client performance in 802.11n enterprise wireless LANs.

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The HiPath Wireless version 7 software, powering the company's controllers and access points, now lets network administrators easily classify users into different groups. A HiPath WLAN controller identifies each wireless user at log-in, confirms that the user has the required safeguards or security settings needed, then sets the appropriate configurations, rules and permissions based on the user's group, and applies these across access points and controllers as the user moves.

The capability is part of Enterasys Policy, one of the applications in the company's Enterasys Network Management Suite (NMS). The new controller software lets administrators set up group policies for just Wi-Fi users. But when used with NMS, they can create user-based policies centrally and push them out to both Enterasys switches and, now, wireless controllers. The change is part of a trend by some network vendors, such as Aruba and Cisco, to enable centralized control of both wired and wireless users.

The second new feature lets administrators grant priority to users connecting to the Enterasys Wi-Fi network using 802.11n. Without this kind of change, older 802.11bg and 802.11a users, who get to send the same number of packets as 802.11n users, take longer to do it, because of their much lower data rates.

Enterasys now focuses on giving clients different amounts of time on the network. If all are given the same amount of time, the 802.11n clients can transmit a much larger number of packets. You can set up to five level "airtime fairness" priorities, and no changes have to be made to the Wi-Fi clients. Some rival WLAN vendors introduced this time-based performance enhancement earlier.

Third, and last, HiPath 7 now creates a simpler model for supporting guest Wi-Fi access at remote or branch offices. In the past, a HiPath controller was needed in each location. Now, a remote access point forwards the initial guest access request to a controller at a regional or headquarters office, where the request is authorized. Then the HiPath access point can switch the guest's Wi-Fi traffic locally (for example, to a local Internet connection), without involving a controller.

The HiPath 7 software release is available now, loaded onto Enterasys' line of Wi-Fi controllers, which start at $4,995. The Enterasys Network Management Suite starts at $999. It is not required if you only want to set user group policies on the WLAN. Enterasys is part of the Siemens Enterprise Communications Group, a joint effort by The Gores Group and Siemens AG.

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