Proxim Announces Switched WLAN Architecture

This week Sunnyvale, CA-based Proxim Corporation
announced its upcoming entry into the centralized, switched wireless LAN arena.

Proxim’s Maestro architecture is designed "to address broad scale deployment,
to reduce cost and complexity, to get WLANs into existing networks," according
to Georganne Benesch, vice president of product management at Proxim.

Maestro expands upon what the company learned from selling and support the
Harmony AP Controller.
Maestro will feature a Wireless Enabled Switch that will run a number of access
points. The Maestro switch can be controlled using the Proxim Wireless Network
Manager software running on a server or as a plug-in to HP OpenView.

While Maestro sounds similar to what Symbol Technologies is doing with the Mobius
Wireless System
, which uses a Axon Wireless Switch to control Mobius Access
Ports (not points) that lack the smarts built into most access points today.
Benesch stresses that the Symbol model is more like what the Harmony AP Controller
does: It only works with Proxim’s Harmony Access Points.

Maestro will be open to working with access points from third party vendors.

"You don’t have to have just a central or distributed network," says
Benesch. "You can have both and we’re going to continue to have both. Rather
than the notion of an intelligent access point or switch, we’re talking about
an intelligent infrastructure."

Benesch won’t say specifically which third party access point products would
work with Maestro, but says instead that "pretty much any third party access
point will work. But at what level, we’re not ready to specify."

Maestro will certainly work with existing Proxim products such as the AP-2000
and AP-2500, which Proxim recently announced would support 802.11g.
Future products from Proxim will have Maestro support integrated, and since
the switch will house the intelligence, expect some newer access points to ship
soon with less functionality. The price should go down accordingly. (The AP-2000,
for example, currently sells for $595 MSRP).

In addition to centralized management, Maestro will also bring easier installation
of standard access points (as in turn it on and the switch sets it up), load
balancing, granular access control based on application or user, 802.1X authentication,
and "consistent persistent connectivity" by roaming over multiple
subnets. The switch will supply Power over Ethernet (PoE) to access points that
need it.

Maestro will be the backbone architecture Proxim is providing in its recently
announced deal with
Avaya and Motorola
to facilitate voice over IP roaming in enterprise networks.
Avaya will in turn provide the telephone system, Motorola will handle handsets
that support both cellular and Wi-Fi voice traffic.

It’s too early for Proxim to comment on Maestro’s costs, but it will be "cost
effective" according to Benesch. Price will depend upon the number of access
points supported. Maestro should be available in the second half of 2003.

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