New wireless LAN products from Cisco are the latest evidence that keeping up with advances in this market is getting ever more challenging.
New 802.11g-based radios, for example, feature the fifth iteration of the company’s 2.4GHz chipset, which blends Cisco silicon with that of an unnamed partner. Quite apart from the data rate boost in 802.11g, Cisco recommends enterprise customers upgrade to 802.11g from 802.11b because of improvements in range and throughput due to the silicon engineering advances.
But as welcome as the improvements may be, for many companies the “new, improved and faster” mantra is secondary to the complexities that WLANs are introducing.
That’s not to suggest corporations aren’t buying WLAN infrastructure products.
Worldwide, this group bought 17 per cent more access points last year than they did the year before, according to Synergy Research Group.
And for the first nine months of this year, it snapped up about 806,800 access points, which is 26 per cent more than it purchased through the first nine months of last year.
Still, observers wonder if shipments might be even higher if there were not so many questions. Even vendors seem to agree that the flood of products might be causing customers to hold back on large-scale deployments.
“You need other things besides (just) faster silicon,” general manager of Intel’s wireless network group, Jim Johnson, said. “You need services, features, ease of use.”
As for Cisco, in addition to the new 802.11g radios for its Aironet 1100 and 1200 access points, the company unveiled WLAN client adapters that can work with 802.11a, 802.11b or 802.11g access points, and Version 2.5 of the CiscoWorks Wireless LAN Solutions Engine (WLSE), which is a server for administering access points.
A new version of Cisco’s IOS software, designed for the Aironet access points, includes a built-in encryption engine for the Advanced Encryption System, which is expected to become the WLAN cryptographic algorithm when the IEEE 802.11i security standard is finalised.