SPOTLIGHT: Thin is in--but which thin?

There is a general move away from fat, intelligent, stand-alone APs in WLAN design toward a centrally switched architecture (see story #4 above). There are several reasons for this change of direction: Security became an issue, as was the need to allow for cross-subnet roaming. There were other issues having to do with scalability and control. Yes, you could buy gateways from Blusocket or Cisco to help manage the distributed network, but more and more businesses realized that a better way was to manage a series of thin APs by using wireless switches. As Craig Mathias notes, however, there are several different architectures which feature the wireless switch-thin AP combination (just compare the designs of Meru Networks, Extricom and Xirrus). As businesses weigh what WLAN to buy next, they should consider not only features such as throughput and security, but also WLAN architecture. Discussion