Computer Associates has released a beta of its new wireless network management software, promising greater security and simplicity.

Unicenter Wireless Site Management (WSM) automatically discovers and maps out WLANs and wireless devices, CA says. Using agents on authorised wireless devices and centralized management software installed on a server, WSM will map, monitor and secure wireless nets.

Users will need an agent installed to be allowed access to 802.11 nets. Without the agent and authorisation, wireless users will not be granted access to company WLANs.

WSM beta user Maurice Ficklin, director of technical services at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has been using WSM on his production network for about a year. He says managing performance on a wireless net and restricting rogue user access are challenges when trying to deliver wireless services to students and faculty at the 141-acre WLAN location. "WSM helps us use less man hours to maintain our WLAN," Ficklin says.

Linda Reino, CIO at Universal Health Services is using WSM in beta at George Washington University Hospital. She says the product enforces location-based access controls and manages performance for the doctors, nurses and support staff at the hospital. "Healthcare providers have no choice but to go wireless," she says. "But we also need to secure the patient data."

WSM software will also help network managers set wireless policies and enforce them after the fact. For example, with WSM network managers can define parameters for WLAN use based on geographic location, time of day or type of user. The agent on the wireless device will enforce the policies set by the network managers, and those without agents will be denied access altogether.

Features of WSM include automatic encryption key management. CA says the software will automatically generate, distribute, rotate and synchronise Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) keys for secure wireless communications, based on policies defined by the security administrators.

Currently in beta, WSM could be available in between three to six months. Pricing will be determined when available.

CA also announced Unicenter Web Services Distributed Management 3.1 software to manage Web services and now heterogeneous service-oriented architectures. The software was also integrated into CA's eTrust Identity and Access Management to simplify management of Web services in the enterprise.

WSDM was developed using Service Oriented Management and Monitoring Architecture, which the company acquired when it bought Adjoin last year. The software monitors Web services messages and automatically discovers Web services on a network and sets health-monitoring levels. The ability to examine the XML message stream differs from the traditional management practice of embedding agents in each system component.

The WSDM platform, which runs on Linux, Solaris and Windows, requires a minimum of two servers and costs $50,000. CA will also offer WSDM as a hosted service.