Motorola says it has the first branch-office WLAN access point which can continue to operate securely when the WAN goes down - but rivals says it's playing catch-up. The products are "802.11n ready," but Motorola is yet to announce support for the new fast wireless LAN standard.
Motorola's adaptive access point can be "adopted" over the WAN as a thin access point, but switches to standalone mode, using the last-known security settings, when the WAN connection is lost, or the switch fails.
"Our adaptive AP will remain unaffected securely in an outage," said Kevin Goulet, director of product management in Motorola's enterprise mobility business. "Client devices will have no issues. When a new switch is found or connectivity is restored, connections are restored seamlessly – the client has no idea that anything occurred."
Goulet declined to compare this product with branch access points from rival vendors, except to say that Motorola's device has a "layer 2" firewall, while others have firewalls that stop working when the WAN connection is broken. Aruba denies this. "We've had local survivability since last August," said Roger Hockaday, director of marketing EMEA for Aruba," he said. "Our firewall keeps working when the connection breaks." This was a new generation of a remote AP, launched in 2005.
Motorola has been ramping up marketing for the Symbol wireless LAN products, which it bought in 2006. Although Symbol kicked off the switched WLAN market, it has been losing market share, and is late in launching any 802.11n products.
The adaptive AP uses local bridging, so traffic does not always have to travel to the WLAN switch at the centre of the LAN, a development which should support the higher bandwidth provided by 802.11n - and, again, delivered more than a year ago by other vendors including Trapeze and Colubris. It also supports mesh technology, and intrusion protection services. Again, these are features supported in some other products but - possibly - not in that exact combination.
Some analysts are impressed. Craig Mathias, principal analyst for Farpoint Group, gave a quote for the Motorola release: "Motorola's Adaptive AP offers the best aspects of centralised management and local wireless-LAN control, making it ideal in distributed, high-availability environments."
Goulet would not talk about Motorola's lawsuits with Aruba, nor would he comment on market share: "That's a great discussion point, but we don't talk about market share publicly." Motorola has a lot more salespeople behind the products than Symbol did, and he expects share to grow.