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Review: Cisco's Catalyst 6500 Series Wireless LAN Services Module

Cisco Systems remains the leading seller of enterprise WLAN systems, even though competitors offer a broader feature set. Its success stems from dominant LAN switching and routing and a reputation for building reliable and upgradable WLAN access points. Cisco's WLSM (Wireless LAN Services Module) for the Catalyst 6500 Series multilayer switch will make it less likely that the vendor's existing Ethernet customers will look elsewhere for feature-rich WLAN solutions.

The WLSM is the latest and most significant element of Cisco's SWAN (Structured Wireless-Aware Network) strategy. SWAN leverages the vendor's smart APs at the network's edge while adding management and other services at the core and distribution layer. The WLSM works in conjunction with Cisco's WLSE (Wireless LAN Solution Engine) management appliance.

Ironically, the WLSM legitimizes the switched WLAN system designs introduced by competitors 18 months ago. However, Cisco aims to one-up the start-ups by offering better scalability and richer integration with wired networks.

Beefy Boxes

Cisco shipped a preproduction version of the WLSM, a Catalyst 6500 and the line cards needed to support the new environment to our Syracuse University Real-World Labs®. The pallet was hefty, as is the price: You can easily spend $100,000 for a high-availability system, and that's before you buy a single AP.

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