WLAN manager's dilemma

Tuesday, 20 May 2003, 6:18 PM EST

Wireless LANs solve two important problems for network managers. They reduce the cost of LAN infrastructure deployment and enhance client mobility. But they also introduce headaches of their own, especially when it comes to security and management.

I recently tested three solutions that take slightly different tacks to solving wireless security and management problems. Cranite Wireless Wall is a software solution that combines a policy server, one or more access controllers, and client software, and works at Layer 2 and above. Cranite provides the strongest security of the solutions tested, encrypting everything sent between wireless devices and the wired network, but requires a proprietary client.

The Vernier IS-6500p and ReefEdge Connect System are hardware-based wireless gateway solutions. Neither requires dedicated client software, allowing for flexible Web-based authentication, but both support the use of OS-supplied IPSec VPN software to beef up security. ReefEdge provides a utility that makes implementing OS-based VPNs easier for administrators and end-users.

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