Wireless performer

Intelligent networking is the goal of the modern enterprise, and one highflying vendor's solution could help bring it a step closer. ACN talks to the CEO of Trapeze Networks.

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By  Daniel Stanton Published  December 5, 2006

|~|Tilmans,-Bart-----TRAPEZE--.jpg|~|Tilmans: Using one management environment makes life easier.|~|Mobility in the enterprise is at an all-time high, thanks to innovation in the field of networking, but one vendor thinks there is still room for improvement.

Trapeze Networks believes that its new Smart Mobile solution is one step closer to providing an intelligent switching solution to the enterprise, ensuring that traffic is managed efficiently and the best network performance is maintained.

"It's all about serving the right level of intelligence in the network to intelligently scale merging applications, not just indoor access but outdoor access, higher performance applications and voice," says Jim Vogt, CEO and president of Trapeze.

Trapeze is currently focusing on the Middle East and is in the process of putting together its own team here, in addition to its local partnerships with systems integrators, like EMW (East Meets West) in the UAE.

Vogt sees a particular need for high performance networks in the region. "It's a pretty competitive market - all the usual suspects are here," he says. "There's definitely a lot of infrastructure investment. There's a lot of focus on hospitality and being able to create the best services for the guests.

“Mobility's a nice feature so people can roam throughout these resorts and have connectivity.

“There's a lot of educational business because in particular within this region they're investing in education and technology in educational institutions. There's a key customer here in the area that's going to be doing some things in the coming months."

He believes that Trapeze has a unique value proposition because it allows enterprises to use their existing network architectures more intelligently. "We think that there's a shift in the marketplace," says Vogt. "We can differentiate a good solution for the customer where they don't necessarily have to replace everything they have, like some of the competitors are telling them to do.

"You don't have to replace the switches, you can load new software in existing switches and overlay products." He sees this as a particular benefit since, even though most people will not be upgrading to 802.11n standards until next year at the earliest, they may be buying infrastructure now and will not want to scrap their switches when their needs change.

"In terms of reach, people have been a little bit worried about having a mesh network and having an indoor premise network - how do they get the two to talk to each other?" asks Vogt. "The easiest way to solve that problem is to extend your premise network outdoors, which is what we're doing." This avoids the problem of having separate indoor and outdoor networks, which results in a dropped connection when a user moves from one to the other.

Vogt adds: "In performance, where we had a technology that took us to 54 megabits, you now have 802.11n evolving in the next year that could take you to hundreds of megabits of connectivity. So what kind of strain does that put on a centralised architecture? It's considerable because that becomes a bottleneck within your network. So in being able to distribute and balance that load, that's what allows us to give the performance in the network."
||**|||~||~||~|Using Trapeze's Smart Mobile technology, network managers have the option to route different data through different channels. "You can essentially extend mobility on the existing infrastructure," says Vogt.

"It definitely distributes the right amount of intelligence on the network. You have choices in terms of how you want your traffic distributed, what traffic you want to come through the centralised switch, what traffic might be edge-switched for performance and scalability like voice and peer-to-peer applications.

"You have that flexibility and a real management suite that allows you to actively tune and monitor that network.

“So it's really not a new architecture for us, it's an extension of the architecture we have invested in over the last few years."

Bart Tilmans, marketing director, EMEA, Trapeze Networks, believes that the company's Ringmaster solution enables efficient network management. "If you talk to an IT manager, the last thing you want is to have multiple different management platforms for anything," he says. "Ideally you would like to have everything on one system."

As far as security is concerned, Vogt believes that wireless networks have now reached the point where it no longer gives IT managers sleepless nights. To demonstrate the point that wireless networks now have superior security features to fixed networks, he often tries to access potential customers' networks through a wired connection and claims a nine out of 10 success rate.

Security can also be managed better using Trapeze's management tools and adjusted to maximise network performance. "We don't centralise our encryption," says Vogt.

"The reason is that now you've lost all your data patterns to a centralised monitor. So we distributed encryption at the AP and it allows you to scale a much larger scale network.

“We're doing that same trick with the data path in terms of selective data path distribution for voice applications, for outdoor applications, so it allows you to scale the network. So we're replaying the same architecture with a new twist and an extension."

On the other hand, sometimes it will be necessary to route traffic through a centralised monitor. "On a selective basis you can determine on a profile basis what clients you would like to be distributed versus centralised,” says Vogt.

“For example if you're worried about monitoring your guest traffic you could have that all centralised. You could leave peer connections for people that are internal users.

“Now you have a strong basis of control, security and management, but a means of distributing the data path level of functionality for performance reasons."

The solution marks a move away from fat APs to thin APs, where resources are used more efficiently and user traffic only travels through the parts of the networks it really needs to, based on the user profile.

Healthcare and education were early adopters of the technology, but Trapeze is seeing its technology adopted by an increasing number of verticals. "Hospitality is a new one that's evolving for us, retail is another sector that we're getting into," says Vogt. "If you end up with about 15 verticals it tells you that the market is becoming more mature and more generalised."
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