Network tester Fluke Networks to buy AirMagnet

The companies say their combined product lines will provide views into both wired and wireless networks

A powerhouse in wired network testing and monitoring made a big move into wireless LANs on Thursday as Fluke Networks announced an agreement to buy AirMagnet.

Fluke makes a variety of products for both enterprise and service-provider networks, including cable testing gear, troubleshooting equipment, traffic analysis software and some wireless LAN analysis offerings. The planned acquisition, for which terms were not disclosed, will add a large lineup of wireless test, security and analysis products from AirMagnet.

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Wireless LANs are playing a growing role in enterprises as employees expect to have fast connectivity everywhere, and Wi-Fi gear based on the 802.11n standard delivers client speeds comparable to most wired LANs. With the acquisition, Fluke will be able to offer customers visibility into their networks from end to end, regardless of physical media, and deliver tools to manage and troubleshoot those networks, the companies said.

Future enterprise LANs are likely to become hybrid wired and wireless networks, with Wi-Fi for some end-user connections, said Fluke President Dave Coffin. But enterprise Wi-Fi also is moving beyond the appeal of mobility within an office environment to include specific uses such as medical equipment and handheld credit-card readers, he said.

"Wireless has been around for a while, but the dynamics are creating even better growth opportunities, and I think we'll see real acceleration once the recession recedes some," Coffin said.

Coffin wasn't able to discuss Fluke's plans in detail until after closure of the deal, which is expected in the coming weeks. But he said Fluke wanted to hold on to AirMagnet's brand and talent pool as well as the company's Sunnyvale, California, location.

Fluke, in Everett, Washington, is a subsidiary of Danaher, a diversified technology company based in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1992 and has about 700 employees. AirMagnet, founded in 2002, is privately held and based in Sunnyvale, California, with about 80 employees and more than 8,200 customers, according to its Web site.

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