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Senior Editor

Cisco adds IOS to wireless

Oct 07, 20023 mins
Network Security

Network executives now can extend the controls they use in their Cisco backbones to wireless LANs from the same vendor.

Network executives now can extend the controls they use in their Cisco backbones to wireless LANs from the same vendor.

The Cisco Aironet 1100 access point, unveiled last week, is the first wireless product to use the company’s IOS operating software. IOS runs in all Cisco network hardware, and is designed to create a uniform means of controlling and provisioning the network. Until now, the Aironet wireless products used a third-party real-time operating system.

With this introduction, the 1100 gives wireless LAN managers three new capabilities. With Proxy MobileIP, IOS lets end users move between wireless subnets without losing their session. With support for virtual LANs, managers now can create up to 16 separate network segments, and group them based on security requirements or traffic type, such as voice or data. Finally, quality of service makes it possible to set wireless traffic priorities, giving precedence to time-sensitive traffic such as transaction processing or voice packets.

The 1100 access point now can be managed by a number of Cisco management applications developed for IOS-based hardware on the wired network.

Many network professionals are already familiar with IOS, says Aaron Vance, industry analyst for Synergy Research Group. That means they can work immediately with the new 1100 model, using many of the existing IOS commands and tools already developed for the wired network.

The 1100 incorporates the familiar IOS command-line interface and a completely redesigned Web interface for administrators, says Ron Seide, product line manager for Cisco’s wireless networking business unit. Over time, Cisco will add a growing number of IOS features to the Aironet products, extending to wireless LANs the same level of control and security that now exist on the wired LAN.

The Aironet 1100 can be managed via SNMP-based network management applications. The access point, via IOS, also can be controlled via Cisco’s Resource Manager Essentials, an application that inventories software packages, called images, which can then be automatically deployed to and installed on scores or hundreds of network devices.

In early 2003, Cisco will introduce a firmware upgrade for its higher-end Aironet 1200 access point, also adding IOS to these devices.

Cisco’s idea of loading more intelligence into the access point differs from that of several wireless LAN rivals. For example, Proxim and Symbol both use separate controllers between the wireless LAN and the wired network to add centralized control over the access points, as well as security and switching features, according to Vance.

The $600 list price, although a new low for Cisco, is still $200 to $400 more expensive than many other access points, Vance says. Some vendors such as LinkSys and Buffalo offer 802.11b access points for less than $200. Cisco makes the case that features such as IOS, high-quality parts and metal construction, justify the premium.

Senior Editor

I cover wireless networking and mobile computing, especially for the enterprise; topics include (and these are specific to wireless/mobile): security, network management, mobile device management, smartphones and tablets, mobile operating systems (iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10), BYOD (bring your own device), Wi-Fi and wireless LANs (WLANs), mobile carrier services for enterprise/business customers, mobile applications including software development and HTML 5, mobile browsers, etc; primary beat companies are Apple, Microsoft for Windows Phone and tablet/mobile Windows 8, and RIM. Preferred contact mode: email.

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