Aruba Networks is adding support for wired networks to the next version of its AirWave network management tool.

AirWave 7 will be able to configure and monitor edge switches from Cisco, and monitor edge switches from HP and Netgear, according to Roger Hockaday, Aruba Networks' director of marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The company's goal is to simplify management by giving IT staff a single point of view of the edge of the network, whether wired or wireless. It has integrated the management of edge switches because they have the greatest effect on the performance of Wi-Fi networks, Hockaday said.

Having a management tool for both networks can make it easier to find what has gone wrong when a user can't connect to the network. Quickly locating network faults has become more important as companies have started using wireless networks as their primary network connection, according to Hockaday.

"It is much easier to correlate fault information and do fault finding if you can get all of the information from one console," said Hockaday.

AirWave 7 can also generate reports on wired port utilisation, which then can be used to decide if an 802.11n-based access point needs a Gigabit Ethernet connection or a Fast Ethernet connection to the rest of the network, according to Hockaday.

With AirWave 7's new Mobile Device Manager module Aruba is adding support for the management of Windows-based end-user devices, including laptops and bar code scanners. Administrators can install an agent on such devices to track them, perform firmware updates and monitor battery levels.

For companies and service providers that want to integrate AirWave with their existing monitoring tools, Aruba is releasing a new XML-based API, and the company will let Airwave users create customized user interfaces and dashboards for different management tasks.

The use of wireless LANs has evolved from guest networks to primary network connections thanks to the introduction of 802.11n, and that trend will accelerate in 2010, according to Hockaday. The popularity of laptops and the need to lower costs are the main drivers, he said.

AirWave 7 will begin shipping in March. Typical costs are US$6,000 to manage up to 50 devices, whether switches or wireless controllers, or $45,000 for up to 1,000 devices.