Cisco Adds Integrated Wireless To Stackable Switches

wireless LAN

At its Networkers 2006 conference in Las Vegas, Cisco launched the latest addition to its Unified Wireless Network offering with its new Catalyst 3750G Integrated Wireless LAN Controller, which brings built-in management of Cisco's lightweight access points to its Catalyst 3750G stackable Gigabit Ethernet switches. Integrated controllers are already available for the San Jose, Calif., vendor's modular Catalyst 6500 core switches.

With the 3750G, solution providers can target integrated wireless solutions at a variety of customers, including "more midsize businesses, branch offices, and there is heavy demand from large enterprises looking to distribute WLAN management," said Ben Gibson, director of mobility solutions marketing at Cisco.

The Catalyst 3750G Integrated Wireless LAN Controller is available now in two versions: one that supports up to 25 access points for $20,500, and another that supports up to 50 access points for $25,500.

In addition, Cisco launched Unified Wireless Network Software Release 4.0, which is available now and adds new support for mobility features, including security, guest access, voice over WLAN (VoWLAN) and location-based services.

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Solution providers can use such services to make a business case for widespread WLAN deployments, according to Gibson. "WLANs are evolving from being just about access points and departmental coverage toward widespread deployments. Our partners are working with customers to determine what the applications are that can be enabled with a pervasive WLAN," he said.

Vince Varga, vice president of engineering at Anyware Network Solutions, said the Denver-based solution provider is talking with one health-care client interested in deploying location-based services to wirelessly track IT assets, medical equipment and personnel.

"The customer said they are losing 10 to 20 laptops in any given month, primarily stolen. If they are Wi-Fi enabled, we can say, 'The last time we saw it was at this exit, and the last person who had it was 'X,' " Varga said.

On the security front, the upgrade adds integration with Cisco's intrusion-detection and prevention security offerings, specifically its IPS 4200 Series Sensors, enabling deep packet inspection across Layers 2 to 7, Gibson said. A new Management Frame Protection uses 802.11i encryption to secure management frames, which hackers could use to launch denial-of-service attacks, he said. Cisco is part of an IEEE workgroup that's developing the 802.11w standard for management frame protection.

With a rising number of customers seeking to provide wireless Internet access to guest users without allowing them access to the corporate network, Cisco has incorporated a new customizable login portal--as well as a "lobby ambassador" portal--to generate passwords for guest users.

New VoWLAN features add new Call Admission Control, support for the vendor's latest Cisco Compatible Extensions toolset for client vendors and new performance metrics.

Location-based services also are supported with the new software release, which includes new planning and deployment tools that partners can use to ensure successful rollouts.