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Several wireless LAN vendors are preparing new management software to help ease the process of securing a wireless network. Interlink Networks Inc., Airespace Inc. and Aruba Wireless Networks have each developed advancements to their respective WLAN products that ease network management and security configuration—an issue that for many users has become the primary obstacle to deploying safe systems.

Interlink next month will launch a version of its LucidLink Wireless Security software, which reduces Wi-Fi security configuration to a couple of mouse clicks. LucidLink Version 2.0 bests previous versions with support for as many as 250 users and client support for Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 2000. It adds a remote management console and new troubleshooting tools, said officials at the Ann Arbor, Mich., company. The software ranges in price from $449 for 10 users to $3,995 for 250 users.

LucidLink prevents unauthorized attacks and protects wireless data using a mix of wireless security protocols such as WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), WPA2, 802.1x and 802.11i. While many products support the same protocols, LucidLink distinguishes itself with ease of configuration, according to officials.

Click here to read about some recent security solutions for protecting wireless LANs.

“The first time you want to get into your wireless LAN and set up a secure connection, you click on a single button and all the configuration is set up,” said Mike Klein, CEO of Interlink.

Customers say such simplicity is key.

“We don’t want to have somebody dedicated to the task of providing security,” said Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations LLC, a software development company, also in Ann Arbor. “We have a lot of people on our team who are capable technologists, but I need them working on our paying projects rather than on our IT infrastructure.”

Next Page: Easy guest provisioning.

LucidLink also includes a guest authorization tool that lets an office manager or receptionist grant temporary access to visitors, enrolling them with two clicks for a specified length of time and removing them with one. The new version allows for unlimited flexibility in setting expiration and reauthorization dates, according to officials.

“That prevents a waxy buildup on our network,” Sheridan said.

WLAN switching companies have grown aware of the need for easy guest provisioning tools. Trapeze Networks Inc., of Pleasanton, Calif., released a Java-based application earlier this month. Airespace, meanwhile, is planning to offer “on the fly” account provisioning early next year, according to officials at the San Jose, Calif., company.

For its part, Aruba is planning to include guest provisioning forms and automatic account expiration in the next release of its AirOS WLAN management software, which is due next month.

Aruba is also addressing the security needs of large enterprises that support a variety of users and want to keep them separate from one another. AirOS Version 2.3 lets the WLAN switch centrally manage authentication from multiple RADIUS servers on a network, said officials at Aruba, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The new version of AirOS also includes new tools for optimizing radio signals on WLANs. Besides providing dynamic radio-frequency propagation, the software includes a color-coded “heat map” that lets the IT administrator see changes in real time. The colors change as the system calibrates necessary changes.

AirOS Version 2.3 will include a more nuanced dynamic power control system than previous versions, officials said. If one access point fails, an adjacent one will pick up the slack with minimum system interference. Maintaining awareness of nearby access points is key in Aruba’s new grid architecture, which comprises densely deployed, inexpensive access points.

“This is an enhanced version of the transmit power algorithm,” said Keerti Melkote, co-founder of Aruba. “If one access point fails, the access point adjacent to it will increase the power level, but now it does it in such a way that it’s not bothering the other [access points].”

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