WIPS vendor to add performance mgmt.

* Predictive capabilities could ease data reporting avalanche

A challenge with most network monitoring and reporting systems is that the more data-rich they are, the more incomprehensible they become to network administrators. Pawing through volumes of raw data to pinpoint cause-and-effect information is so time-consuming that some problems simply go undetected. At least one wireless vendor, though, is trying to help alleviate this problem in Wi-Fi networks with predictive performance management and smart forensics.

AirTight Networks -- perhaps the last remaining third-party wireless intrusion-prevention system (WIPS) maker -- is bolstering its wireless LAN-neutral SpectraGuard system in its next major release, to ship in January. SpectraGuard version 6.0 will catch and resolve pending performance-related problems before they wreak havoc with user experiences, according to the company.

AirTight will offer its performance management capabilities either as a CPE-based appliance or in the form of online software-as-a-service, as it currently does with its SpectraGuard Online WIPS offering. The company is working hard to build a case for why the industry still needs a third-party wireless vulnerability management vendor, given that most of its one-time start-up competitors have been acquired.

AirTight maintains there are many data points and conditions it can find and proactively fix because of its dedicated, continual scanning and baselining of the over-the-air environment. Many WLAN infrastructure vendors' sensors time-slice between vulnerability scanning and serving users, collecting only a sampling of data that is then left largely to interpretation.

Some examples of what AirTight says its forthcoming SpectraGuard 6.0 system can do that WLAN infrastructure-embedded security and management systems can't:

* Detect and report excessive probe requests from authorized clients -- even if they can't connect to an AP -- and correlate them to poor WLAN coverage.

* Detect a source of interference that is close to the client but far from the WLAN access point.

* Detect a misconfigured AP and/or one not optimized for best throughput.

* Recommend reconfiguration of APs, such as a channel change, for best throughput.

* In two clicks, show what, when, where and who did what relating to any given Wi-Fi device.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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