CA to unwrap WLAN management software

Wireless Site Management pulls together CA's overall wireless strategy

ISLANDIA, N.Y. -- Computer Associates later this year will release the final version of an entirely new software product for managing and securing wireless LANs (WLANs), dubbed Wireless Site Management (WSM).

 WSM, currently in beta, will be generally available in the fourth quarter, company officials revealed to InfoWorld during a visit to CA headquarters here last week.

"[WSM] ties together our whole wireless strategy," said William Peterson, director of product marketing for CA.

Peterson explained that WSM consists of three key areas: WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) access key management, physical limits, as well as events and reporting.

WEP access key management enables IT managers to schedule automatic generation, distribution, rotation, and synchronization of keys, Peterson said.

WSM also enables IT to set physical parameters, such as location- and time-based requirements for access to the WLAN. For instance, a particular user might be allowed to log into the WLAN when on the corporate campus, but not when off the campus. Likewise, an IT administrator could set time limits so that a consultant has access to the WLAN during the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but not otherwise.

On the reporting front, WSM generates networks reports, including ones for security vulnerabilities or performance metrics.

CA's approach to securing and managing WLANs from a network configuration and performance standpoint should appeal to customers, said Stephen Elliott, networking analyst at IDC.

"A lot of IT shops have been taking a piecemeal approach to security and management for wireless LANs. It's an afterthought, really, for a lot of them. There are a lot of products out there that try to handle security and management for wireless LANs, but none have a real complete solution," Elliott said, adding that selling this as both a stand-alone product and one integrated with Unicenter should help CA. "But this is still a developing market and I think this is just the first generation of products to address these issues," he said.

In a future release, CA's Peterson explained, CA will offer an SDK to let customers build and customize their own reports.

Also on the WSM road map is building out support for wireless standards; today the software supports 802.11b, but forthcoming iterations will add 802.11g and its brethren.

Finally, down the road CA plans to tune WSM for VOIP phones and roaming.

"We're waiting for the [roaming] technology," Peterson said.

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