Legra enters WLAN switching fray

Wireless switching startup Legra Systems today came out of stealth mode to unveil their entry in the battle to define what wireless LAN switching should be. Legra's approach, like competitors Airespace and Trapeze Networks uses a combination of dumb / thin radios and "switch" boxes that contain the smarts needed to encrypt, authenticate and manage wireless traffic. However, Legra's "secret sauce" is the fact that their "Remote Radios" don't need to be directly connected to their switches, but are instead logically connected to the switch units over any existing IP Network. This makes their system more easily scalable, and keeps costs down by requiring fewer physical switch units.

Although it might seem that newcomer Chantry Networks stole Legra's thunder with the announcement at the beginning of last week of its "routed WLAN" approach that also eliminates the direct connection between dumb AP and smart "switch", Legra doesn't appear worried. They said that Chantry's approach supports only IP Layer 2 applications and requires changes to customer DHCP and DNS systems, while Legra's architecture works without such changes and handles any flavor of network traffic, including Novell Netware and Microsoft NetBios.

Legra's switches are based on what they call their WLAN Operating System (WOS), which is built on an embedded version of Linux, and should make it easy for them and their customers to add third-party based applications. The thin APs have Atheros-based radios and can be powered via 802.3af Power Over Ethernet.

Legra has "multiple customers in early BETA" with general availability planned for later this Summer . No pricing info was given. Legra also announced the closing of its $8.5M Series A round of financing with technology investors Kodiak Venture Partners and Genesis Partners .

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