Meru Updates WLAN Wares With BYOD, Security In Mind

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend may be forcing IT managers to be more flexible with how access is granted, said Kamal Anand, Meru's senior vice president of product management. But much existing wireless LAN infrastructure makes provisioning network access for those devices time consuming and insecure, he said, often without a way to control that network access and assign policy from a centralized location.

Newly updated is Meru System Director 5, Meru's virtual wireless operating system, which will come standard in new Meru controllers and offered as a free update to current Meru customers with service contracts. It's the first Meru product update to leverage the technology Meru gained through its acquisition of Identity Networks in September, whose platform is now Meru's Identity Manager.

An optional feature for Identity Manager is Meru Smart Connect, which automates the setup and configuration of mobile devices seeking network access, with one-click configuration for 802.1x environments using a wizard-based setup. Meru at present supports Windows, Apple iOS, Apple Mac and Android platforms, and can work with WPA, WPA2, 802.1x, PEAP-MSCHAPv2, PEAP-GTC, WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK protocols.

"It's costly if the IT guys do it in terms of having to spend the time, especially when you look at the scale and churn of devices. Most traditional wireless LAN systems are just not able to help this process today," said Anand, citing research from the Aberdeen Group predicting that about 1.9 billion Wi-Fi devices will be accessing network connectivity by 2014.

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It's an upsell opportunity for solution providers to take to their customers struggling with BYOD, Anand explained, and it's also a Meru product solution providers can take into multifaceted non-Meru environments. It covers both wired and wireless infrastructure, he said, and can provision network resources in Cisco systems, Aruba systems or those of other wireless LAN competitors.

Anand added that Meru isn't positioning the updates as a mobile device management (MDM) solution; rather, it will continue to partner with MDM and security specialists instead of develop its own MDM products.

"That aspect [MDM] is really focused on, 'Once I get into the network, what data can I copy on my device, can I wipe the data if it gets lost, etc.,'" he said. "What we're focused on is getting these devices into the network -- more the network access part of the solution."

Also new to the Meru product lineup are two new large-capacity controllers, the MC3200 and MC4200, which respectively have multi-core Intel i5 and i7 processors. The MC3200, intended for mid-sized enterprises, comes in a 1U rack mount form factor, supports up to 200 access points and includes four Gigabit Ethernet ports. The MC4200 comes in a 1U rack mount form factor, supports up to 500 APs, and offers both four Gigabit Ethernet ports and two 10-gigabit Ethernet modules.

Along with the controllers is a new Meru access point (AP), the AP433, featuring a three-radio, three-stream design. One version of the 433, the AP433is, includes a fully integrated RF sensor that monitors and corrects Wi-Fi interference using Meru's Spectrum Manager.

Meru has continued to expand its channel program even with much churn happening in its executive ranks. Most notable of all is the pending departure of Meru President and CEO Ihab Abu-Hakima, who said earlier this month that he will leave the company within six months, having "achieved [his] personal and corporate goals" at the company.

Meru is scheduled to report third quarter earnings on Wednesday. At the time of his transition announcement, Abu-Hakima said Meru will report revenues greater than its previously guided range of $23.2 million to $23.7 million, but also take a bigger-than-expected loss, thanks to the Identity acquisition.