Cisco Initiative and Proxim's Maestro
A few weeks before Intel's Centrino announcement in March, Cisco unveiled a program offering free licensing of Cisco's Aironet wireless technology to makers of wireless cards and other mobile equipment. Intel has already opted in to Cisco's extensions program, along with IBM, HP, Texas Instruments, Agere Systems, Atheros, Atmel, and Intersil.
Compliant vendors will be able to use new Cisco Compatible branding, signifying compliance with Wi-Fi, 802.11, and the Cisco Wireless Security Suite, as well as compatibility with Cisco's "scheme for assigning wireless LAN clients to VLANs," officials report.
Intel is also permitting PC makers to use Centrino processors in conjunction with wireless chips and RF radios from other vendors. Yet PCs in this category won't be able to wear the Centrino branding, unlike those that are based on the entire Centrino package.
Beyond issues with VLAN schemes and cross-vendor management, wireless equipment can differ along a variety of other lines, running the gamut from encryption protocols to the types of RF radios used, according to Scott Ruck, business development manager at Proxim.
Under Proxim's forthcoming Maestro architecture, some non-Proxim access points will be manageable only at the SNMP level, Ruck acknowledges.
AirDefense's Moran suggests the use of the AirDefense appliance or packet sniffing software in conjunction with multiple other levels of security, including wireless vendors' management tools, firewalls, Radius servers, and VPNs. Outside of its other functions, AirDefense is geared to centralized, air-based rogue detection over a wider range than software packet sniffers.
Some of AirDefense's customers, though, have already run into interoperability problems with wireless vendors' management tools, according to Moran. "The obvious answer is to get all your access points from a single vendor. However, lots of organizations find that branch offices have already gone out and bought their own wireless equipments." Mergers and acquisitions can also result in a hodgepodge of multivendor equipment.
As another management solution, Moran points to third-party WLAN gateways. Bluesocket, for instance, provides policy-based installation, maintenance, and management across wireless architectures from multiple vendors.
Enterprise management vendors are also getting into the act. Computer Associates, for example, is now developing a module for CA-Unicenter aimed at supporting multiple vendors' WLAN architectures, sources at CA have revealed. Now in closed beta with general availability slated for spring, the product is known as Unicenter NSM Wireless Network Management Option.