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Computer Associates International is planning its strongest play yet to manage wireless LANs comprehensively with a new system that offers greater automation and streamlines deployment.

The new Unicenter Wireless Site Management (WSM) system, due in beta this week from the Islandia, N.Y., company, is designed to help customers overcome some of the hurdles that have slowed deployment of IEEE 802.11 wireless LANs (WLANs).

At the heart of the software, which is due to be announced at the company’s CAWorld user conference in Las Vegas this week, is the automation of myriad and complicated functions such as managing encryption keys, detecting and disabling rogue access points, and provisioning user access.

Also automated are processes such as discovering and mapping WLAN infrastructures, optimizing the wireless network and automating Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) configuration and administration.

With such a comprehensive approach to WLAN security, administration and management, Computer Associates International Inc. is planting a big stake in the ground compared with rivals such as IBM’s Tivoli unit, BMC Software Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.’s OpenView unit, observers say.

“CA is the biggest vendor to venture this far into WLAN management,” said Warren Wilson, an analyst at Boston-based Summit Strategies Inc. “It recognizes that WLANs present management challenges that a lot of enterprises haven’t fully dealt with.”

Click here to read about how smaller vendors are pushing to deliver on WLAN management.

One major hurdle cleared by the new Unicenter WSM system is the automation of administration of the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption scheme.

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