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Application traffic control now reaches network's edge

Xirrus plans to sell next month the option of adding application traffic control to XR Wireless Arrays, becoming one of the first vendors to integrate such a feature into an access point at the edge of the network.

Application Control, introduced this week, provides an alternative to have a traffic classification and policy enforcement engine in a gateway node or appliance located in the data center. Xirrus, which competes with Cisco, Aruba, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola, is one of the first to head to the network perimeter, Tim Zimmerman, an analyst with Gartner, said.

"We expect to see this moving forward, because it is an important next step in the development of networks," he said. Such architectures avoid the latency and performance problems that arise when application traffic is controlled in the data center.

In general, Application Control makes it possible for customers to mark critical applications, so they get priority in accessing a network. Bandwidth-heavy applications can be restricted and specific applications blocked.

This kind of control is useful in many different environments, such as in hospitals, where there's a need to prioritize critical applications, and in schools, where social media and other non-educational services can be blocked or restricted.

Xirrus's new product cannot identify malware traffic or prevent sensitive data from leaving a corporate network. However, the technology can determine if the traffic is traveling over a Secure Socket Layer (SSL).

[Derek Slater: Network Security Isolationism must die]

Overall, Application Control is meant to help corporations make the best use of bandwidth to avoid unnecessary upgrades or hardware purchases, said Steven Wastie, chief marketing officer for Xirrus.

"Prioritizing the critical applications, as opposed to the recreational stuff, can result in a much more effective use of the network," he said.

The need to prioritize applications accessing a network through a tablet, smartphone or laptop crosses all industries, Zimmerman said. "There's a lot of prioritization that can be done here that network administrators, based on the vertical market, would really like to do."

The new product will be sold as an addition to XR Wireless Arrays, starting in December. Pricing has not been disclosed.

Wireless Arrays integrate 2 to 16 radios, a multi-gigabit switch, controller, firewall, threat sensor and spectrum analyzer in a single device. Xirrus pitches the product as a less expensive alternative to having multiple access points that require more cabling, switching and general infrastructure.

Read more about network security in CSOonline's Network Security section.

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