Madge has continued to reinvent itself as an enterprise wireless LAN supplier, with the release of a branch office version of its access-control device.

The company is pricing its Enterprise Access Server (EAS) 100 aggressively, at $900. Rival products from companies such as Aruba Wireless Networks and Bluesocket cost considerably more.

The EAS 100 is intended to secure and manage about 100 users on up to five access points, either Madge's own, or via SNMP, a range of third-party products. Management of a multi-vendor WLAN infrastructure is Madge's sales pitch. Users will have to weigh the trade-offs of a standards-based approach compared with the possibly more sophisticated management with proprietary, single-vendor WLANs.

For years, Madge focused on and became a leader in token-ring LAN hardware. But in 2003, a management buyout took the company private. Last year, it raised about $3.8 million in a funding round led by venture capital firm Sigma Technology Group.

The cash served as fuel for faster WLAN product development and expanded marketing and sales efforts. Madge cut a US distribution deal with Ingram Micro and began signing up resellers. The company introduced dual-radio access points, high-end and mid-range versions of the EAS, and the WLAN Probe Monitor.

As with its earlier WLAN controllers, Madge has crammed the EAS 100 with a wide range of security features, and then automated them or reduced them to a set of Web configuration screens.

The EAS 100 comes with a built-in Radius server and certificate authority to handle security and authentication locally.

The access server also supports 802.1x authentication via Extensible Authentication Protocol-Transport Layer Security.

Other security options include media access control address lists, Wired Equivalent Privacy, a built-in firewall to control specific IP ports and VPN support.