Bluesocket’s Switched Gateway

Next week at NetWorld+Interop 2003 in Las Vegas, established WLAN management vendor Bluesocket will be joining the ever-growing switch market.

The Burlington, MA-based company will be releasing the WGX-4000 Switch Wireless Gateway, a third generation gateway product that adds switching and management for WLAN products from multiple vendors.

In the words of Bluesocket CEO Eric Janszen, “We don’t want to replace the existing switches. We want to extend the wireless domain.”

The WGX-4000 is a standalone appliance, primarily the wireless gateway for up to 800 users but with switching functions such as VLAN trunking and traffic prioritization. It has Gigabit Managed and Protected interfaces, eight 10/100 Ethernet ports, and promises a throughput of 800Mbps for regular traffic and 400Mbps for encrypted traffic using IPSec. The unit has proprietary Quality of Service (QoS) features available.

The WGX-4000 will continue to communicate with previous generations of Bluesocket products. That ability to interoperate with other Bluesocket products is part of the company’s Secure Mobility Matrix, a flat mesh network of sorts where the devices can do seamless hand-offs, even though one unit is the master node. All the policy configuration is on that master, which replicates the policies to all the components in the Matrix. Upgrade the software on one component, and the upgrade replicates to all the others.

Having the Matrix also means no single point of failure will take down the network, unlike a typical client/server architecture.

Patrick Rafter, the director of corporate communications for Bluesocket says this is key for the type of large, multi-national corporations that Bluesocket wants as customers. “The Matrix is not just a floor — it’s an entire campus. It is policies transferred across the ocean…. were building a product with features extensible to the things people will need into 2005 or 2006.”

“Not everyone wants to plug their access points into our box,” admits Janszen. “So our platform is adaptable to as wide a variety of topologies as there are in the real world.”

He says customers are resistant to changes and resistant to being forced into a single vendor solution. “What’s the point of having a standard called 802.11 if you can’t mix and match and take advantage of the market?” he asks. To that end, Bluesocket’s products, including the WGX-4000, work with products from enterprise class vendors like Cisco and Symbol and even the SOHO providers like D-Link and Linksys.

Just today, the company announced a deal with AirMagnet to make sure the technology from both companies will interoperate, as well as a co-marketing agreement. AirMagnet just announced a distributed version of its WLAN analysis tool. Bluesocket has a similar deal with Interlink Networks.

It makes sense for Bluesocket to not go proprietary — since they only sell products through channel partners, it makes it easier for those resellers to bundle access points from vendors like Cisco or Proxim with the Bluesocket solutions. Bluesocket even offers its channel partners a WLAN certification.

The company is confident that its established position will help it against the rest of the nascent WLAN switches popping up out there. “Start-ups forget they have to solve customer problems,” says Janszen. “End users don’t see us a new technology company, but as a mature organization with reliable products — more mature than you expect from a company our age.”

The WGX-4000 should be available this quarter, but pricing has not yet been determined.

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