Bluesocket is offering its rebuilt enterprise Wi-Fi controller software on virtual machine platforms, the first one being VMware. The company will port the code for other hypervisor platforms in the future.
The Bluesocket Wi-Fi control and management functions now can be shifted to existing VMware deployments, without the need for separate wireless LAN controllers. The only hardware now is the Bluesocket access points. By "virtualizing" key controller functions, Bluesocket executives say, the WLAN can scale to handle the soaring growth both in Wi-Fi traffic volume and in clients, with users increasingly having more than one mobile device.
Bluesocket is part of a small group of vendors shifting functions from dedicated Wi-Fi controllers to access points, server appliances and even the cloud. These "controllerless" models eliminate some capital and operational costs and can simplify WLAN administration. Other vendors include Aerohive Networks and Meraki, and possibly Xirrus, which bundles controller features into a package that combines several access points in a single device.
Bluesocket launched its re-building project in Fall 2007. In December 2009, it released the first version of what it now calls "vWLAN" -- software that could be downloaded by customers into any server-appliance, in any location, to handle WLAN control and management tasks. Those tasks include Layer 2 and 3 mobility functions, user bandwidth tracking and radio frequency management.
One additional benefit of this architecture, says Bluesocket CEO MadsLillelund, is "failover is instant: there is zero packet loss, and the primary and backup virtual servers can be located anywhere.
The intelligent access points incorporate a firewall and handle at the edge a range of functions typically done by a controller. The access points manage identity-based access control, for example. Bluesocket offers as separately priced options, applications for client-side security compliance scanning and for security and WLAN redundancy.
With this week's announcement, this code is available for deployment on VMware 4.0 and 4.1, the most recent versions. The software has been certified as "VMware ready." Bluesocket is showcasing the virtual WLAN at VMworld this week in San Francisco, in the conference's "New Innovations Pavillion."
The new Bluesocket software can be downloaded at no charge for a VMware deployment. Customers buy the Bluesocket access points, and separate licenses for each of these.
The new hypervisor version of Bluesocket, for VMware, will be available in the latter half of September 2010. Bluesocket access points, two-radio 802.11n devices, are listed at $795. The VMware/hypervisor code is free; or you can have the server code pre-loaded on a Bluesocket-branded appliance ($1,195) or an IBM System X 3250 server ($3,995). CEO Mads Lillelunds says pricing is both less complicated and absolutely less in dollar terms compared to the leading controller-based WLAN solutions from rivals.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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