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Trapeze's WLAN System -- Worth a Second Look?

Perhaps more important than the technical glitches during testing,
Trapeze failed to quickly adjust its system architecture to the market
reality that enterprise IT pros have little appetite for installing a
WLAN switch in every wiring closet. While Airespace and Aruba allowed
users to logically attach APs (access points) to their switches using an
existing Ethernet infrastructure, Trapeze still required a physical
connection from AP to switch. At the time, the company promised to fix
that shortcoming. With this week's release of its second-generation
product offering, the company has made good on that promise. Now it's
time to take another look at Trapeze.


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When Trapeze Co-Founder and Vice President Dan Simone briefed us earlier
this week, it was obvious that he understood the key issues associated
with enterprise WLAN deployment and management. While acknowledging some
of the shortcomings of the company's first-generation offering, Simone
made a solid case for its new system, which not only overcomes the
direct-connect limitation of Trapeze's initial release but also broadens
the product portfolio to allow for much more flexible system deployment.

Trapeze's key differentiators are a software-based WLAN modeling
application called RingMaster and a secure mobility architecture the
company refers to as Identity Based Networking, which is based on the
IEEE 802.1x standard that is the foundation for the existing WPA (Wi-Fi
protected access) and emerging 802.11i security standards.

The RingMaster 2.0 application has been enhanced to support 3D modeling.
It's a slick modeling tool, perhaps the best the industry has to offer.
But we've always looked at WLAN modeling tools the same way we view
traditional network simulation tools. While RingMaster does add some
marginal value, experienced system designers usually can do an adequate
job of estimating the appropriate location of APs without using such a
tool. And if they really insist on accuracy, there's no substitute for a
physical site survey.

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