A primary (K-12) school district in suburban Kansas City is using a mixed strategy to transition from an intelligent, distributed WLAN architecture to a centrally managed and secured architecture.

The Olathe Unified School District intends to ultimately replace 230 3Com 7250 "thick" (intelligent) access points with Trapeze Networks "thin" Mobility Point APs, Mobility Exchange WLAN controller and Ringmaster management software.

The district is buying about 1500 new Trapeze APs. But the overall rollout of the new network will span about 55 school buildings and will take a period of two to three years to complete, says Jay Merkle, wireless network administrator.

So for the migration period, the 3Com APs will remain in place, but the district will convert them to Trapeze APs by way of Trapeze's Open Access Point Initiative (OAPI). This program, enabled by Trapeze partnerships with traditional AP vendors 3Com and Enterasys, allows you to plug in one of these vendors' legacy APs to Trapeze's Mobility Exchange controller and convert it into a Trapeze AP.

However, the 3Com 7250s support just 802.11b and 11g connections in the 2.4 GHz band. The Olathe district is looking to add 5 GHz 802.11a support to the mix for the flexibility in channel design. So those reconfigured 3Com APs will be a temporary
condition until they can all be replaced with Trapeze 802.11a-capable radios, Merkle says.

He adds that he hopes that converting the 3Com APs to Trapeze APs will eliminate some performance-consistency problems the district experienced with the 3Com gear - "hopefully, it's a software issue" - but says he won't know for sure until the
conversion takes place.