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Review: Perfect Harmony: Page 7 of 17

Intermec's Java-based MobileLAN Manager utility simplifies administration by allowing centralized management and configuration of access points. We used it to add, configure and manage new access points. It's functional, though its ease of use could be better.

The Intermec access point offers most of the standard attributes found in lower-cost 11a access points, but it also has many features targeted at the enterprise environment. The Intermec offering is the only one we tested to include support for IEEE 802.1x authentication (Proxim has since added this capability), and the feature worked well when we tested it in our labs using a Funk Software Odyssey server.

The Intermec access point supports an integrated RADIUS server, allowing the access point to use RADIUS to authenticate users that need to log into the access point configuration interface. It boasts a TFTP server capability, which lets mobile or wired TFTP clients transfer files (in the system file directory of the access point) to or from the access point. Power-over-Ethernet support is also available for the Intermec access point, as is the case with Proxim Harmony and Intel. Some of the product's advanced features may seem esoteric (for example, Intermec's is the only access point that allows for adjustment of the Ethernet frame type between DIX and SNAP), but they are representative of functionality that has been requested by Intermec customers over the years.

The Intermec access point's support for distributed network upgrades lets managers deploy firmware upgrades to all access points that are part of the same spanning tree. Proxim Harmony is the only other access point that helps with centralized upgrades. Another useful feature is that not only can you discard changes made to the access point configurations but you don't have to reboot the access point for changes to commence. Many access points require a reboot before any configuration changes take effect and won't let you discard pending changes.

Similar to Proxim Harmony, Intermec's is the only other access point to let mobile clients roam between access points on different subnets using an IP tunneling technology. However, unlike Proxim Harmony, MobileLAN deploys multicasting to allow roaming in more than 10 remote subnets. Unfortunately, certain basic features, such as the ability to adjust power output to create smaller cells, and hardware reset capabilities are missing.