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Extricom Forms Uni-Fi Alliance

Extricom, in a play of words off the larger and more mature certification
body, the Wi-Fi Alliance, has announced the Uni-Fi Alliance. The alliance
is focused on providing validated product combinations. Extricom offers the
underlying WLAN infrastructure, while the alliance's other members supply
locationing, security, Vo-Fi, and convergence products.

Although standards developed by the IEEE or certifications offered by the
Wi-Fi Alliance go a long way in developing a *base* level of functionality,
they don't guarantee that two or more vendors' products work well together.
Just because one vendor's access point and another vendor's Vo-Fi handset
have both received Wi-Fi certification for 802.11b/g, WPA2, and WMM, it
takes some extra verification on the vendor's part to make sure that roaming
and QoS are the most optimal possible.


Alliances of this nature find their roots in two elements: the desire by
smaller or less visible vendors to expand their brand and presence beyond
their immediate product line; and customer demands that products work well
together, out of the box, rather than offering up their network as a test
bed for interoperability testing. Of course, each vendor has their own
existing technology and business partners, besides the informal
relationships that are established when there is a shared customer
opportunity. So why an alliance, and why now? It's part of a larger trend
within in the enterprise Wi-Fi vendor community. Earlier this year Cisco
made a push towards a more solutions oriented marketing approach, where they
highlighted specific use cases in different verticals, and only after the
business case or benefits were made, were the supporting products showcased.
Aruba and Trapeze have also stepped up to the applications plate, the first
with their Vo-Fi and FMC initiatives, and the second with their location
appliance. Members of the Uni-Fi Alliance can now talk about some of the
same benefits without expanding or OEM'ing and integrating it into their
product line.

This kind of alliance and the other trends demonstrate that this industry is
maturing beyond a focus on fat versus thing APs and their management to
looking at business problems, identifying ways to solve them, and marketing
them. The remaining question is whether the Uni-Fi alliance will expand to
include some of the more significant players in the Wi-Fi space or if it
will be restricted to the enterprise wanna-bes who don't feel they get
enough face time.

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