10th Annual Well-Connected Awards: Mobile and Wireless

Interesting developments, innovations and new standards helped us pick this year's winners.

May 11, 2004

6 Min Read
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Exhibit A: All the major cellular providers have rolled out new packet-based data networking capabilities, and while the speed of wireless transmission is still closer to that of dial-up rather than that of a cable modem, it's fast enough to enable new applications and elicit a positive user experience.

Beyond cellular, there are plenty of interesting developments in this market. Fixed wireless systems, both radio and optical, deliver fat pipes between buildings. Other innovations, such as wireless mesh technologies, are beginning to loosen the shackle known as line-of-sight, and new standards, like 802.16a (WiMAX), promise a viable wireless alternative to DSL and cable modems. However, the most significant wireless technology is Wi-Fi ... which leads us to our product of the year in this area and our Most Outstanding Product of the Year overall.Categories

WLAN Security Monitoring System

WINNER: AirMagnet Distributed 4.0. AirMagnet, (408) 400-0200. www.airmagnet.com

Someday, the perfect WLAN system will merge wireless services with performance and security monitoring into an integrated whole. But if you need the best available distributed wireless monitoring system today, AirMagnet Distributed 4.0 is a solid choice. Wireless sensors capture data from the air, analyze it and report significant security and performance events to a centralized management system.

FINALISTS:

AirDefense Guard 4.0. AirDefense, (877) 220-8301, (770) 663-8115. www.airdefense.netNetwork Chemistry Intrusion Protection System 2.0. Network Chemistry, (650) 575-1425. www.networkchemistry.com

Wi-Fi Hotspot Provider

WINNER: Boingo Wireless, (800) 880-4117, (310) 586-5180. www.boingo.com

Boingo Wireless is the company with the silly name that had a good idea. Instead of trying to build out its own wireless hotspot service, Boingo acts as an aggregator for a range of providers, offering Wi-Fi access in 6,000 hotspots at an all-you-can-eat rate of $21.95 per month. In our mock RFP published in May 2003, Boingo did the best job meeting the needs of our hypothetical midsize engineering services company.

FINALISTS:
Gric Communications, (877) GET-GRIC, (408) 955-1920. www.gric.comiPass, (650) 232-4100. www.ipass.com

Enterprise WLAN System

WINNER: Airespace Wireless Enterprise Platform. Airespace, (408) 635-2000. www.airespace.com

Airespace has emerged as the leading provider in the enterprise-class wireless LAN infrastructure market. Its product line consists of nicely designed and inexpensive dual-band access points that work in conjunction with one or more central switches or appliances to deliver a rich set of services. The overall system design is clean, providing flexible security, rich monitoring and management of the RF environment, and excellent performance across all WLAN bands and protocols.

FINALISTS:
Aruba 5000 Modular WLAN Switching System. Aruba Wireless Networks, (408) 227-4500. www.arubanetworks.comMobility System. Trapeze Networks, (877) FLY-TRPZ, (925) 474-2200. www.trapezenetworks.com

Wireless VoIP System

WINNER: Cisco Wireless IP Phone 7920G. Cisco Systems, (800) 877-0519. www.cisco.com

Wireless voice over IP is still new, but many organizations are betting it will become a strategic wireless service, letting an organization's data-oriented WLAN infrastructure deliver mobile voice as well. Cisco's Wireless IP Phone 7920 represents the state of the art in many respects, providing a wide range of useful functions when deployed as part of a Cisco enterprise VoIP solution that includes its Call Manager server.

FINALISTS:

NetLink e340/i640 Wireless Telephones. SpectraLink Corp., (800) 676-5465, (303) 440-5330. www.spectralink.comVocera Communications Server Software 2.1 and the Vocera Communications Badge. Vocera Communications, (800) 331-6356, (408) 790-4100. www.vocera.com

Mobile Wireless E-Mail System

WINNER: Intellisync Mobile Suite 5.5. Intellisync Corp. (formerly Synchrologic), (888) 345-SYNC, (770) 745-5600. www.intellisync.com

When Intellisync (formerly Pumatech) acquired Synchrologic last September, it became a significant player in enterprise-class mobile middleware, a market that has seen modest growth but substantial improvement in underlying technology. Intellisync's Mobile Suite provides a flexible environment for deploying and managing applications on mobile devices. One key element is a synchronization engine that offers robust e-mail services across multiple mobile platforms.

FINALISTS:
XTNDConnect Server (rebranded as OneBridge Mobile Groupware 4.0). Extended Systems, (800) 235-7576, (208) 322-7575. www.extendedsystems.comBlackberry Enterprise Server. Research In Motion, (877) BLK-BERRY, (519) 888-7465. www.blackberry.com, www.rim.net

» "Wi-Fi Vs. Bad Guy,"

» "Before Wi-Fi Can Go Mainstream,"

» "Enabling the Future of Wi-Fi Public Access,"

» IEEE 802.11 Working Group Site» The Unofficial 802.11 Security Web Page,

DAVE MOLTA is a NETWORK COMPUTING senior technology editor. He is also assistant dean for technology at the School of Information Studies and director of the Center for Emerging Network Technologies at Syracuse University. Write to him at [email protected]. Airespace Wireless Enterprise Platform. Airespace, (408) 635-2000. www.airespace.com Given Wi-Fi's ubiquity--from the home to the hotspot--it's probably not surprising that we chose a Wi-Fi offering as the mobile and wireless product of the year. In an increasingly crowded market with many deserving products, Airespace provides just the right combination of features and functionality to make it a big success in the enterprise. It is elegantly designed, cost-effective, secure, easily manageable and scalable. What more could you ask for? It's so impressive that we also awarded it our Most Outstanding Product of the Year award.

We ran the very first system Airespace sent to our lab through a battery of tests, ranging from performance to roaming to security, and it passed with flying colors. Happily, the company hasn't rested on its early laurels: Recent upgrades add Layer 3 support, advanced intrusion detection and location awareness to an already solid offering that not only delivers a secure framework, but provides dynamic load balancing and redundancy to the RF environment.

Mobile and Wireless Product of the Year

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