Legra Fields Wireless-LAN Switch

Paul DeBeasi, vice president of product management and marketing at Legra Systems (Burlington, Mass.), said the announced competitors to date-including Aruba, Airespace and Trapeze-are handicapped by their use of traditional access points (APs) with off-the-shelf cryptography chips. "These encrypt/decrypt one packet at a time, while we've designed and implemented our own security ASIC with WEP [wired equivalent privacy], WPA [Wireless Protected Access], 802.11 and IPSec [Internet Protocol Secure], meaning we can do encryption and decryption of four parallel streams," DeBeasi said. Legra's CryptoFlex ASIC resides within the switch and is implemented on a Xilinx Inc. FPGA that can be upgraded with future security schemes, he said.

The ability to perform parallel cryptography is essential in a wireless environment, DeBeasi said, where every packet needs to be encrypted and decrypted and every user has a different key and may be using a different encryption scheme. "It's all very computationally intensive, yet customers need to be able to prioritize, with, for example, a patient on a heart monitor getting highest priority, then working from there," he said. Prioritization of the packet flows is ensured through the use of a configurable input scheduler that results in the switches becoming central traffic-flow managers.

The CryptoFlex is accompanied by the TrueApp engine and a wireless-network processor; the latter is based on a MIPS core and performs acceleration of key and cryptography handling. The TrueApp comprises a dedicated CPU with a wireless operating system built around Linux, and a 30-Gbyte hard drive. The combination allows the integration of additional third-party or Legra software, DeBeasi said. The LS2012 switch supports direct and indirect radio IP connections over an Internet Protocol network, he said.

Feeding the switch are APs manufactured by Acton International Co. Ltd. of Taiwan based on Atheros Communications Inc.'s 802.11b or 802.11a /g chip sets. "Our radio technology is plug-and-play at Layer 1 or 2, said DeBeasi, "so they'll find the switch over an IP network and create a logical connection with it using the RemoteRadio protocol; others require a physical connection, or a virtual line. That's a hassle for customers." Up to 12 direct connections or 60 remote radio connections can be supported on each switch.

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The final two pieces of the Legra architecture are the LM6000 Legra Manger network management appliance and the Automatic Optimizer. The former provides visibility into the network and minimizes operational complexity through centralized provisioning, troubleshooting and monitoring. The latter automates the process of radio channel selection, after looking for RF interference and rogue access points.

This story courtesy of TechWeb .