D-Link, Airespace Partner Up To Support LWAPP

D-Link, which has been primarily focused on the SMB market, sees an opportunity to move into the enterprise segment by embracing the LWAPP draft, which is now being considered by a working group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), said Keith Karlsen, executive vice president at D-Link, Fountain Valley, Calif.

"It's opening up the whole enterprise space in terms of management, security and interoperability," Karlsen said. "We think LWAPP is going to be the emerging standard."


>> CREATES USB-LIE environment for WLAN access points, network controllers.
>> CREATES A CENTRAL way to handle air traffic.

San Jose, Calif.-based Airespace, one of the original supporters of LWAPP, said the protocol creates a USB-like environment for WLAN access points and network controllers. LWAPP also would establish a uniform, interoperable way for different WLAN switches or controllers to interact with so-called thin access points. That, in turn, would enable automation of many access points by creating a central way to handle air traffic, such as radio-frequency management, authentication and IEEE 802.1x security.

D-Link's access point will work with the Airespace's 4000 WLAN Switch and 4100 WLAN Appliance and any other WLAN controller supporting LWAPP. D-Link expects to release the new access point next quarter.

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LWAPP appears to be gaining traction, said Oli Thordarson, president of managed service provider Alvaka Networks, Huntington Beach, Calif. "The wireless security and management solutions I've seen to date are third-party add-on or ad hoc things that have limited integration and compatibility," he said. "It will be interesting to see where the market goes, but %85 [LWAPP] is a big plus for some larger LAN installations."

Meanwhile, WLAN infrastructure leader Cisco Systems supports the so-called fat access point WLAN model, in which access points hold the intelligence to handle traffic such as authentication and radio-frequency management. At the same time, WLAN switch vendor Aruba Wireless Networks supports its own thin access points and switching system designed to be layered with, for example, Cisco's wired infrastructure.

Both Cisco and Aruba have said clearer definitions of which features should be included in wireless access points and which should be included in network controllers or switches, should be established before a new standard is ratified and new products are released.

Aruba CEO Don LeBeau, a former senior vice president at Cisco, believes that Cisco's wired network and Structured Wireless-Aware Network Framework are the best kind of transport for what wireless manufacturers such as Aruba are building.

Cisco's proprietary approach to WLAN management and security has been criticized by wireless open-standards supporters. To counter that image and address limitations with its Lightweight Extensible Authentication Protocol (LEAP), Cisco submitted a draft on a new, open WLAN security solution to the IETF. Dubbed EAP-FAST (Extensible Authentication Protocol, Flexible Authentication via Secure Tunneling), the solution addresses limitations in Cisco's proprietary LEAP, which is included in the IEEE's developing 802.1x security standard for network authentication.