Cisco has been making headway developing its own RF management tools during the past year. But apparently it wasn't catching up to its nimble and RF-savvy start-up competitors quite fast enough.
Last week, the wireless LAN market-share leader announced an integration effort with prominent wireless monitoring specialist AirDefense. Going forward, Cisco's Wireless LAN Solutions Engine (WLSE) for RF management and a pair of newly announced Cisco Aironet access points (doing double-duty as wireless sensors) will share intrusion detection info with AirDefense's Enterprise WLAN server appliance.
AirDefense's appliance, coupled with distributed radio sensors, monitors all WLAN activities to detect "rogue" APs and protect against unauthorized intrusions, enforce network policy, and track a WLAN's overall network health.
The integrated Cisco-AirDefense capabilities are scheduled for availability from Cisco next March at no additional charge.
Integrating the two environments should combine both RF management and intrusion detection/prevention capabilities onto a single console. For enterprises growing increasingly concerned with the challenges of provisioning and securing the RF airspace, centralizing these functions with robust tools is fast becoming a priority.
AirDefense competitor AirMagnet has participated in similar integration efforts with heterogeneous WLAN management system vendors Wavelink and Airwave. AirMagnet VP of marketing Rich Mironov hinted that his company could also end up a Cisco wireless monitoring integration partner.
Cisco's Aironet US$699 1130AG and US$999 1230AG Series 802.11a/b/g APs, to ship this quarter, will serve as the sensors in the AirDefense-enabled intrusion-detection environment. The new products have reportedly been certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) interoperability, meaning they support the latest security standards specified by the IEEE in the 802.11i suite. To date, the only enterprise-class WLAN AP makers to be WPA2-certified are Cisco, Airespace and Aruba, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance Web site.
Cisco said the new APs have also been Wi-Fi-certified for Wireless Multimedia (WMM) packet prioritization, a subset of the emerging 802.11e set of capabilities for quality of service. Cisco and its Linksys consumer division are the only AP makers to be WMM-certified at this writing.