CA releases wireless site manager

Computer Associates International (CA) released Monday a new tool for managing and securing wireless networks that attracted significant customer interest when it was previewed earlier this year.

CA introduced its Wireless Site Management (WSM) technology at its CA World user conference in May. Then in beta testing, the software elicited enthusiastic reviews from early users deploying it on university campuses and in corporate facilities.

WSM is priced at US$15,000 for up to 100 users, with additional user licenses available for $1,500 per 100. The technology is available worldwide, according to Sumit Deshpande, a CA vice president attached to its chief technology officer office.

WSM enables administrators to identify and manage wireless infrastructure and to restrict network access to authorized machines. It also monitors the performance of wireless networks.

Jeff McGee, chief information officer of Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) in Louisiana, began testing WSM on campus and promptly found several rouge access points on his school's network he hadn't known about.

McGee is currently running a WSM pilot project with about 20 users in one building. BPCC is preparing to move to a new, larger campus in December, and McGee expects to use WSM to run a wireless network connecting all of BPCC's buildings and 5,000 students and staff. He said he's delighted with how well the software has worked. Before deploying WSM, McGee was relying on the management tools that came with BPCC's Linksys wireless router. CA's software is more comprehensive and robust, he said.

The one hitch McGee encountered while working with the software was an undocumented firmware incompatibility with BPCC's hardware. CA is working on the problem, and BPCC has come up with workarounds, he said.

CA's Deshpande said the primary changes CA made to WSM during its beta period was to improve the software's flexibility and interoperability with diverse IT infrastructures. For instance, CA added support for both manually distributing provision files to let users connect to an organization's wireless network, and for automatic authentication, to connect compatible devices as they access the organization's LAN.

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