Hewlett-Packard claimed to have improved its wireless LAN offering with software to manage access points centrally from its ProCurve switches. 3Com has also come out with new WLAN hardware.

HP's said s its Mobility Manager - unlike its existing HP 700wl wireless gateway - is all its work, and a product of HP labs. Few details are available, but it is intended to handle RF and access management for access points. It is optimised for HP's own 420 series access points - but will also work with other access points, said Jon Weatherall, HP's UK ProCurve manager.

"The 420 AP has two radios, and can use one for managing the environment and the other for data," said Weatherall. Combining probe and data functions will make HP's wireless LANs able to handle rogue access detection and other functions, he said.

Like the InterConnect core switch announced yesterday, Mobility Manager will not immediately replace the third party-product in HP's portfolio, although HP's 700wl wireless gateway (reviewed here), is an old-fashioned firewall-like box from Vernier, a company which, itself has moved on to become a more general security vendor.

"The 700 series works with anybody's access point, and back-ends into RADIUS and Active Directory," said Weatherall. "It depends on what you have got installed." A version of the 700wl is available

Adding software to switches to manage wireless LANs could look like a lightweight version of Cisco's failed WLSE strategy, which put WLAN management into Cisco's large switches and is in the process of being replaced with a "proper" WLAN switch from Cisco acquisition Airespace. Or it could be a sign of things to come, unifying the wired and wireless parts of a network.

Not surprisingly, Weatherall opts for the latter: "We're already there," he says. "Look at what it's providing. Good management of wireless deployment, including the radio side of it, under a single point of control." Users will have to wait till December when the product is delivered.

Meanwhile, 3Com has built up its wireless portfolio with an access point designed to be remote controlled and used in a branch office. The WXR100 Remote Office Wireless LAN switch, and the Wireless LAN Managed Access Point 3750, which follow the lead of branch products from specialist wireless providers like Trapeze, are designed to be managed centrally and deployed in remote offices. The switch has power over Ethernet and can handle up to three access points, pre-configured and "drop-shipped" to be set up by untrained staff.