Motorola jacks up high-end 802.11n Wi-Fi controller capacity tenfold

The product refresh is intended to make large-scale, high-performance Wi-Fi networks more affordable and reliable

Motorola Solutions Tuesday recast its enterprise WLAN product line with a new range of one- and two-radio 802.11n Wi-Fi access points, plus a large-scale controller that can handle 10,000 access points.

The product refresh is intended to make large-scale, high-performance Wi-Fi networks more affordable and reliable. The new products incorporate Motorola's Wireless Next Generation (WiNG) 5 Wi-Fi software, which was released about six months ago, to push more intelligence to the edge of the wireless network.

BACKGROUND: Motorola shifts Wi-Fi smarts to access points

With WiNG 5, access points now can handle a range of tasks that once were centrally handled by a controller, such as roaming, authentication, encryption and local data routing. That change, part of an industry trend by WLAN vendors, can boost performance of streaming video and VoIP, and offloads processing from the controller. Details of the architecture and the products are at Motorola's website.

The new NX 9000 Integrated Services Controller is designed for very large-scale WLAN networks, with up to 10,000 access points. Networks of this scale may include hundreds of retail and operations sites nationwide or even globally, each with relatively few access points. Motorola's previous high-end controller, the RFS 7000, handled just over 1,000 access points.

As with previous controllers, the NX 9000 becomes a single point for automatically configuring access points, for setting administrative, usage and security policies for remote troubleshooting. DHCP, Radius and FTP services are all in the box. It's powered by an Intel 2.33 GHz Xenon Dual-Core Processor, with 4MB shared L2 cache, 8 GB RAM and two 500GB hard drives. It's equipped with two GigE ports.

The 9000 will ship in June. Pricing will be announced close to the ship date.

Motorola is unveiling four new 11n access points, including one outdoor device, offering a range of price and performance options. The pricing is "very similar" to the current Motorola 802.11abg access points, according to officials.

The AP 621 is a single radio device, dependent on a controller. It can be set to run on either the 2.4 or 5 GHz Wi-Fi bands; as a dedicated RF scanner, it can monitor both. It will be priced at under $400, shipping in July or August.

The AP 6521 is also a single radio, but adds in software features of the WiNG 5 architecture, so it can work independently of the controller, acting locally as a "virtual controller" at small-medium sites where it can coordinate up to 24 neighboring access points. The price will be under $500, shipping in July or August.

The AP 6532 offers the same virtual controller capability, but has two 11n radios. It can handle data traffic in both bands at the same time, or one of the radios can be set up as a continuous RF scanner. The price will be under $800, shipping in May or June.

Finally, the AP 7161 can be bought as either a two- or three-radio outdoor model, with the full range of WiNG virtual controller features. The same controller infrastructure supports a mixed 11n indoor-outdoor WLAN, shipping in May or June.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

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