Wavelink Upgrades Mobile Manager

Wavelink on Monday unveiled the latest version of its wireless network management software.

Version 5.6 of Mobile Manager, which allows enterprises to centrally manage, deploy and secure their wireless local area networks (WLAN), beefs up the product’s scalability and adds support for Cisco’s Internetwork Operating System (IOS), as well as for Proxim and Dell access points.

The free upgrade allows companies to manage more than 5,000 access points off of a single server, according to Eric Hermelee, vice president of product management for Kirkland, Wash.-based Wavelink. The previous version supported around 500 access points.

“That’s a pretty significant benchmark that’s been set now for the industry by us, which is probably three or four times more than any other solution that does similar functions to ours,” said Hermelee.

The increased scalability will be especially helpful to large enterprises, he noted, since “they need these pretty powerful server-based agents to help manage these big environments.”

Some customers, including Tesco, the U.K.’s largest supermarket chain, have actually deployed more than 6,000 access points using a single server with the new version of Mobile Manager, Hermelee said. “[Tesco was] running that over 600 different stores, all from their central headquarters, over a wide area network.”

The new version of Mobile Manager also supports Cisco’s new Aironet access points (AP), which run its IOS software. More importantly, noted Hermelee, it supports the migration of older, VxWorks-based Cisco APs to IOS.

“You have lots of large customers who have deployed thousands of these older APs and want to upgrade them,” he said, “but trying to upgrade across a wireless environment is challenging because these things are spread out everywhere.”

With Mobile Manager, he said, network administrators can perform “mass upgrades” on all of their legacy APs remotely through the software’s central administrative console. “You can set up a targeted group of access points — maybe a hundred or two hundred — and say this group I want to convert from VxWorks to IOS. You hit a button and it just goes out and does it on a scheduled basis — knocks them down, reflashes them and reboots them, and they’re up and running with IOS without you ever having to go touch them.”

In addition to the new Cisco APs, Wavelink has added support for the Proxim AP-2000 and AP-600, and the Dell 1170. Mobile Manager also supports Symbol, Intel, Ericsson and Nortel APs.

“Our idea there is to give customers the flexibility to manage whatever hardware might be included in their environment,” said Hermelee. “We do find that most larger enterprises have a mixture of different equipment, or they might want the flexibility to choose one vendor over another down the road.”

Wavelink is also releasing this week a new plug-in to HP OpenView. As previously reported, the software allows network administrators to manage both wired and wireless LANs from a single console. The Mobile Manager for HP OpenView software is $1000.

Hermelee pointed to the plug-in as a sign of things to come in wireless networking. “The trend really is increasingly to manage the wireless network under the framework of your wired network,” he said. “Plugging up into these bigger solutions is how things probably will evolve in many cases.”

Finally, Wavelink announced 37 new customer wins in the retail, education, health care and manufacturing markets, including Tesco, Best Buy, BMW, IBM, Lockheed Martin, University of Maryland and Chicago Medical. The company said more than 300 customers use Mobile Manager in their enterprises.

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