Netgear Looks To SMBs With Wireless Management Offerings

Nathan Eddy is a contributor to eWeek and TechWeekEurope, covering cloud and BYOD

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Netgear has announced a family of wireless management solutions to help SMBs and schools better control their wireless infrastructure

Netgear is hoping to ease the problem of controlling and managing wireless networks and equipment in small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) and schools after it introduced a family of ProSafe Wireless Management solutions.

The suite of ProSafe Wireless Management Products is designed to be used in environments with up to 1,500 users, and the portfolio includes ProSafe 5-AP Wireless Management Software WMS105, ProSafe 16-AP Wireless Management System WMS5316, and ProSafe 20-AP Wireless Controller WC7520.

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Netgear said the solutions deliver enterprise-class connectivity and secure wireless LAN functionality, as well as the ability to configure, control and manage seven different access points (APs) ranging from SOHO-class IEEE 802.11g APs to professional-calibre dual-band IEEE 802.11n APs.

The WMS105 Software is specifically designed for small businesses with five to 50 users. Features include centralised configuration for up to five APs, including Wireless-N, user-friendly set up and use where APs are automatically discovered anywhere on the network, mass firmware upgrade for APs and support for existing NETGEAR access points, including WNDAP350, WNDAP330, WNAP210, WG302v2, WG103, WN802Tv2, and WG602v4. It will be available worldwide in May at suggested price in the US of $50 (£31).

“Most wireless networking vendors offer either expensive solutions designed for the FORTUNE 500 or single AP solutions – neither of which is suitable for a growing business,” said Laurent Masia, Netgear product line manager for managed infrastructure products. “The management of wireless networks has been identified as a top priority for growing businesses, and Netgear has responded to this request with leading price/performance solutions. We are now the only company delivering a family of wireless management products that exceed the requirements of the majority of businesses worldwide.”

Netgear’s ProSafe Wireless Management System offers central wireless management for businesses and schools with 50 to 200 users. Features include load-balancing of clients across the wireless network, rogue AP detection, guest access to enable restricted access to the network, web browser interface offers central wireless network management and support for existing Netgear access points. The ProSafe 16-AP Wireless Management System will be available worldwide in March at a suggested price of $910 (£559).

“As the IT administrator of a growing business where wireless networking is critical, I need a lot more than standalone AP vendors can provide in terms of management. On the other hand, previous solutions designed for a much larger environment have not been cost-effective to implement,” said Chris Hemmings of Penguin Internet. “Netgear has bridged the gap between the ‘all or nothing’ choice I previously had to make, with a very easy to manage solution. At this affordable price point, a centrally managed solution will very quickly pay for itself due to the immediate labour savings in routine maintenance and management of access points.”

Netgear said it designed the ProSafe Wireless Controller WC7520 specifically for mid-market companies, and it scales up to 1,500 users. Features include central wireless management based on a full-featured wireless controller, expandable to support up to 50 APs on a single unit, stacking capability for up to three controllers and 150 APs, controller redundancy, wireless security with rogue AP detection, heat maps and triangulation, guest access enables restricted access to the network, with a captive portal and voice over Wi-Fi support with fast roaming and SpectraLink Voice Priority (SVP) QoS compliance. The 20-AP Wireless Controller WC7520 will be available worldwide in July at a suggested price of $6,280 (£3,860).

The Wireless-N License upgrade WC75NL and 10-AP Incremental License upgrade WC7510L for the ProSafe Wireless Controller will be sold for $4,200 (£2,581) each.

“Wireless solutions have rapidly become the most convenient and cost-effective network connectivity method for employees and guests alike,” said Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst of enterprise voice and data at Infonetics Research. “But for many SMBs, centrally managing this infrastructure is simply cost-prohibitive. Netgear’s new wireless management offering changes that, by providing the right price/performance ratio even for small-scale access point deployments.”