MANHASSET, N.Y. Cisco Systems Inc. has announced client-side wireless local-area network adapter extensions that will address the security and network-management concerns that have slowed WLAN deployment to date, the company said. Intended as augmentations to the current IEEE 802.11 standard and its associated Wi-Fi interoperability testing, the enhancements have garnered support from leading WLAN semiconductor suppliers as well as PC and mobile-device OEMs.
Cisco last October fielded version 1.0 of the extensions, which are derived from its enterprise-oriented enhancements to the IEEE 802.11 standard. The version 1.0 extensions mandate the use of Cisco's Leap authentication scheme, active scanning to support virtual LANs and the use of Cisco's original implementation of the temporal key integrity protocol (TKIP).
"We essentially took various pieces of Cisco intellectual property that we felt are particularly important to enterprise customers and codified them into what we call the Cisco Compatible Extensions, or CCX," said Ron Seide, senior product line manager of Cisco's wireless-networking business unit. "Silicon vendors can take these specs and under a free licensing model put them into their reference designs and provide those to their various PC OEM and client-adapter customers." A manufacturer can have Keylabs, an independent testing house, test equipment implementing the CCX extensions for compliance for a nominal fee. Devices that pass will receive a "Cisco-compatible" logo.
"What we're offering to our customers is a broader range of client-adapter form factors and operating system support, feature support and also price points, all with complete interoperability with Cisco's wireless infrastructure," said Seide.
Chip makers supporting CCX include Agere, Atheros, Atmel, Intel, Intersil, Marvell and Texas Instruments; equipment makers include Hewlett-Packard and IBM. "We'll work with these adapter manufacturers to market the logo," said Seide.
The extensions are "exciting because there's a lot more to a complete solution than what's in the IEEE specification," said Rich Redelfs, president and chief executive officer at Atheros Communications Inc., whose multimode 802.11a/b chip set has been designed into PCs from HP, IBM, NEC and Toshiba. "We believe that the combination of the high-speed multimode, which takes care of the backward compatibility and scalability and higher performance, with Cisco's interoperability for network management, security and deployment is what the enterprise needs to deploy WLANs."
All extensions in both version 1.0 and the upcoming version 2.0 can be implemented in firmware or device drivers.