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Cisco makes a bid for practical WLANs

New MSE appliance provides open API for WLAN apps

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Other partners include Agito Networks, which launched a product in October for fixed/mobile convergence. Although Agito uses logic in the client to handle the switch between Wi-Fi and cellular networks, it will be improved by MSE: "This brings additional visibility into the Wi-Fi network," said Rob Markovich, chief executive officer of Agito. "Who better to tell us what is going on in the enterprise network? The API and our client software allows the MSE to feed that information to the client, so it can have additional information when to trigger a handover."

Another partner, AeroScout, is a big player in location: "Our products are built as vendor-neutral, and we continue to work with any enterprise WLAN on the market," said Gabi Daniely, vice president of marketing at AeroScour. "What the Cisco MSE uniquely delivers is a single solution that goes well beyond location, including other wireless application areas such as roaming, intrusion protection, etc. By including the AeroScout Engine embedded within this innovative product, we are gaining access to a very large set of customers to whom Cisco is offering a uniquely integrated solution."

Putting applications first?

Before the announcement, rivals guessed Cisco would be updating its access points, perhaps even moving them from Marvell silicon which only supports 2x3 MIMO, to the Atheros silicon used by the rest of the industry, which supports 3x3 MIMO.

But the announcement skirted that issue. Calhoun says that is "arguing over the shape of the wheel," rather than discussing where to drive it.

This "big picture" doesn't hurt Cisco. The company's products generally come at a price premium, with underlying technology that lags behind the leading edge products in a given sector. Wireless is no exception, but the company still has around 60 percent market share.

This has been eroded a little of late by Aruba and Meru, but the MSE may be what is needed to boost it back up again, but pushing wireless LANs out to users who would not have adopted them before.

"I think this product is very significant - and brilliant marketing to boot," concludes Mathias. "I expect many people won't get this - it's a classic paradigm shift, and it will take a while for even many analysts to see why this is such a good idea. But this is a very impressive direction that continues to build on Cisco's momentum in applications, driving demand for more network capacity through more robust and capable applications."


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