Netgear hooks up SMBs to 802.11 signal

Netgear recently rolled out a network and storage gear aimed at a range of small and midsize businesses, including a new 802.11n wireless LAN product line.

p>The wireless, switch and storage products continue the company’s goal of introducing features found in higher-end wireless products into affordable alternatives for companies without extensive IT expertise and resources.

Netgear’s plans include:

— A two-radio ProSafe WLAN access point, which supports 11n clients on one radio at a time (the second radio can be dedicated to 802.11abg clients)

— New features to its ProSafe line of smart switches (an intermediate product line between unmanaged and fully managed L2 boxes); three new gigabit members of the product line, two with static routing support; and a revamped Web-based management interface

— Its first six-bay ReadyNAS Pro network-attached storage product, with a 6TB capacity and support for RAID 0, 1, 6 and 6; for as many as 200 users

The new WLAN access point, the WNDAP330, is aimed at a price sensitive market, with a list price of just US$475. It’s the vendor’s first 11n product designed specifically for the enterprise SMB market, instead of residential or SOHO users, according to Netgear executives.

Either radio can support 11n clients, in the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. But only one radio can run as an 11n device at a time. So, a business customer could designate the 2.4GHz radio to support existing 11g wireless laptops, and the 5GHz radio for new 11n clients. By running only one 11n radio at a time, the access point can draw enough power from existing 802.3af power over Ethernet switches, according to Netgear executives. (Compare SMB wireless equipment.)

The access point has one 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet port, a console port for local configuration and monitoring, and three detachable antennas. It can be set up and managed through Netgear’s ProSafe Control Center, a Web-based management interface, or via SNMP MIB I, II, or 802.11 MIB, by any SNMP-based management application, including Netgear’s ProSafe Network Management System.

It supports an array of standard enterprise security features including all popular 802.x authentication protocols, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), WPA2, VPN pass through, and SSL remote management login.

It’s just one of an array of enterprise-class 11n gear being announced at Interop this week.

The three gigabit switches are part of Netgear’s ProSafe Advanced Smart Switch line.

The vendor is migrating features typically found in higher-end managed switches into more affordable, but less complex products, says Vivek Pathela, the company’s vice president of product marketing.

The new ProSafe 24- and 48-port models include the company’s first support for static routing, which lets a customer site offload inter-virtual LAN (VLAN) traffic from a router. They have either two or four shared SFP ports for optional fiber connections. Netgear is targeting these at 100 to 200 user sites.

Both are available now, via Netgear’s channel partners. The 24-port model lists for $925; the 48-port model for $1,665.

A separate new 24-port gigabit switch lacks static routing support but does introduce the several new features for this class, such as support for voice VLANs and IP access control lists. It’s priced at $575.

All of the hardware products are covered by Netgear’s lifetime warranty.

Later this year, Netgear will release a upgraded version of its ProSafe Control Center, first introduced in 2007 as a simple to use management application for customers to easily manage a Netgear network.

The first version of Control Center was narrowly focused on managing individual switches.

The new version, a Windows application, will create views of the entire network, handle tasks such as scheduling and executing firmware updates, and remotely manage switches at other locations.

The software is sold with any Netgear SmartSwitch, including licenses to manage as many as 10 other switches at no additional charge.

The new ReadyNAS Pro 6-bay desktop storage device includes Netgear’s patent-pending software code, dubbed X-RAID2, which automatically handles volume expansion when news disks are plugged in. It supports up to six SATA I or SATA II hard drives, with a total capacity of 6 terabytes. There are USB 2.0 ports.

The new storage unit will be available in the third quarter of 2008, starting at $2,000, covered by a 5-year warranty.

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