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Extreme Ease Of Use on a Switch

Extreme Networks of Santa Clara, Calif., announced this week its latest generation of WLAN switch products, under the name Wireless Mobility (WM). Extreme says the products have enhanced performance and ease of use—much of that through use of technology from partner AutoCell—as well as better security.

There are three new WM products. They include the new dual-radio Altitude 350 Access Points, the $17,000 WM100, which supports up to 50 APs, and the $33,000 WM1000, which runs 200 APs. Both switches will be available in July.

The products join the existing Summit 300 and Alpine modular switches, both of which will remain part of the Extreme WLAN product portfolio according to Scott Lucas, the director of WLAN Solutions at Extreme.

Key to the new products is the management concept of the "Wireless Mobility Access Domain," says Lucas. "It allows customers to think about managing access rather than managing access points." It allows for multiple SSIDs on the network to handle access for different kinds of clients—guests get different access than full-timers, for example.

"And we're working with AutoCell to get radio frequency management in there. It simplifies things for managers," says Lucas.

AutoCell Laboratories's eponymous technology has mainly been found in consumer and small-to-medium business products up to this point, particularly in Netgear equipment —including an SMB-oriented switch controlling Netgear ProSafe APs.

AutoCell's firmware gives the Extreme Altitude APs the ability to "automatically control the complete RF environment," according to an AutoCell statement. That includes handling channel assignments, power levels for transmission, and avoiding interference overall.

Extreme has also built in plug-and-play AP installation, so APs will find the Summit WM switch on the network without user intervention. The AP is then configured over the network, as well.

Those same APs are used for security, with no extra hardware overlay needed. Lucas says the company doesn't discourage use of an overlay of extra sensors since they can "help preserve performance... but whether you need it depends upon your level of security." The plan is that the Altitude 350 APs handle the scanning for problems and attacks, as well as handle wireless services for clients. As is, the APs will scan, collect and help analyze data on the WLAN environment as it comes in.

Extreme is also pushing the WM line's Quality of Service (QoS) and roaming (on Layer 3) support, hoping to join the rest of the industry in the march toward voice over Wi-Fi.

Extreme offers a separate appliance called Sentriant for "Rapid Threat Detection" and mitigation, whether or not you have Extreme's WM switches in place.