Colubris has produced the first of its wireless LAN controllers that lets businesses centralise security and management of access points.

Following the same approach as rivals Bluesocket and Reefedge, the Colubris controllers plug into an existing Ethernet infrastructure, and handle wireless net configuration, management and security. The existing LAN switches, and in some cases, the Colubris access points themselves, handle the wireless data packets near the edge of the network.

The new Colubris InMotion 5000 series controllers are rack-mounted appliances. The InMotion MultiService Controller 5500 is designed for large-scale deployments: it can oversee up to 200 Colubris access points and, potentially, several thousand users. The MSC-5500 has twin gigabit Ethernet ports. The MSC-5200 is aimed at small offices and remote locations, and supports up to 25 access points and several hundred users. It was two 10/100 Ethernet ports. Both run dual Intel Xeon chips, and a Linux-based operating system.

"MultiService" refers to applications and features bundled with the controllers, and available to clients through the access points. These services include automatic self-configuration and authentication for the devices, seamless roaming among access points even on different sub-nets, public/guest access rights, and enhanced wireless VoIP.

Colubris is also introducing a new WLAN network management application to view, control, and manage controllers and access points.

The new controllers are the first products the company said it would deliver two months ago. Colubris plans to continue to offer intelligent (fat) access points, to offload data handling to the network edge, while centralising control and management. By contrast, WLAN switch makers like Aruba and Trapeze generally offer a box that incorporates the data switching with the management and control functions, so that all WLAN traffic has to pass through these boxes.

Colubris executives say their approach means that each InMotion controller can handle many more access points than boxes from the WLAN switches vendors.

Analysts say the new devices offer more WLAN options for business. "There will be a number of ways to build the [wireless] net of the future," said Craig Mathias of Farpoint. "The important thing is that wired and wireless are no longer separate networks."

Both controllers will ship in July. The entry-level MSC-5200 will cost $4,800; the MSC-5500, $16,000.