Small businesses will get some of the wireless LAN bells and whistles enterprises already have as Cisco Systems' Linksys division expands its product lineup on Monday.
A new router access point and CardBus adapter will use a draft version of the .n standard for high speed as a slew of consumer wireless gear does already. But more importantly Linksys is building security and management features into the products to help businesses with fewer than employees keep their wireless networks safe.
Linksys in Irvine California has been a huge player in consumer networking for years and is moving upscale in the smallbusiness category. It still doesn't compete too much with Cisco according to Malachy Moynihan vice president and general manager of the Linksys Home Networking Business Unit because the parent company aims mostly at companies with or more employees. If companies do start with Linksys gear and then outgrow it there's a tradein program to help them buy the Cisco products he said.
Enterprise wireless LANs have been advancing from traditional standalone access points to complete systems with centralized control and numerous security features. Linksys is bringing some of those advantages to the smallbusiness market Moynihan said.
The crown jewel of the new lineup is the WRVSN WirelessN Gigabit Security Router which includes four Gigabit Ethernet ports and support for an IPSec VPN (Internet Protocol Security virtual private network) for workers outside the office. It also comes with a firewall and an Intrusion Prevention System to protect the network from Internetborne threats.
The WAPN WirelessN Access Point comes equipped with POE so it can be powered solely via the Ethernet cable from the WirelessN router or another wired device. In small businesses with larger LANs roaming software in the access points and the client lets users stay connected as they move around the office or shop.
A Wireless Client Monitoring application developed by Linksys uses the access point and the WPCN WirelessN CardBus Adapters in notebook PCs to keep track of what clients and access points are on the network. The system which can be monitored on a Web browser can detect rogue access points that are accidentally or deliberately plugged into the wired LAN. The monitoring system can be set to automatically solve the problem Moynihan said. The system can also show which clients are on the network and what channels they are using to aid wireless LAN management in companies that typically don't have a fulltime IT administrator.
The .n standard isn't finished but it may be smarter for small businesses to go ahead and move if they want the performance said Yankee Group analyst Nicole Klein.
"To wait a year and a half or even a year for a solution that will be compliant with the standard... I'm not sure" Klein said.
The access point and adapter are set for immediate availability through Linksys's channel partners with street prices of $ and $ respectively. The router is set to ship in September for an estimated street price of $.