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With wireless LANs firmly established in the headquarters of many large enterprises, WLAN management specialists are now addressing the needs of their customers’ branch offices with new tools that allow for remote administration.

Bluesocket Inc. will announce this week a gateway and associated management software that let users control WLANs in multiple locations, according to officials at the Burlington, Mass., company.

“Systems integrators tell us that [support for] the branch office is what they need,” said Ralph Calistri, Bluesocket’s CEO. “The small and medium enterprise space is growing faster than anything.”

The Bluesocket WG-400 Wireless Gateway can handle as many as 50 users concurrently. It supports as many as eight access points, with four directly connected to the built-in switch on the gateway. The gateway supplements Bluesocket’s existing line of gateways, which are designed for WLANs ranging from 100 to 1,000 users.

Bluesocket also is introducing new management software for multisite WLAN deployments. BlueView Management System provides centralized configuration, provisioning, policy enforcement and monitoring capabilities, using the XML RPC (remote procedure call) specification.

Users agree branch support is increasingly necessary.

“We have a mandate to do wireless coverage across campus,” said Brandon Saunders, senior network engineer at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, who is testing the WG-400. “We have small administrative buildings that this will fit perfectly into.”

Bluesocket is facing increasing competition from the growing WLAN switch market, in which companies offer so-called thin access points managed from a central controller. In the third quarter of this year, these switch-dependent access points represented 11 percent of the enterprise access market, up from 1 percent a year ago, according to IDC, based in Framingham, Mass.

Click here to read more about the wireless LAN market’s competitve landscape.

Bluesocket officials said their relationship with Cisco Systems Inc., which still supplies most enterprise access points and has yet to announce a thin- access-point strategy, keeps them in a strong position.

“I’ve been around awhile, and Cisco can be a very good partner and a formidable adversary, and when you’re trying to sell switches into their base, it’s very difficult,” Calistri said.

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