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Siemens Communications Partners With Ekahau

Siemens will integrate and resell Ekahau's Wi-Fi-based real-time locating system as part of its wireless network offerings.
By Beth Bacheldor
May 29, 2007Ekahau, based in Saratoga, Calif., with offices in Virginia, Finland and Hong Kong, and Siemens Communications, headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., have announced a partnership in which Siemens will resell Ekahau's Wi-Fi-based real-time locating system (RTLS) as part of its wireless network offerings.

The partnership more tightly aligns the companies' product lines, says Luc Roy, VP of product planning at Siemens Communications, enabling Siemens to offer customers a more complete solution, while also making it easier for businesses to implement Wi-Fi networks and RTLS. Siemens Communications, a subsidiary of Germany-based Siemens AG, sells communications equipment to business users.

Siemens Communications' products include a wireless local area network (WLAN) system called HiPath Wireless, which utilizes the HiPath Wireless Controller, providing centralized intelligence and control for the WLAN, as well as HiPath Wireless Access Points, which are enterprise-class dual-band (802.11a/b/g) Wi-Fi assess devices. The Ekahau RTLS solution, operating over an 802.11 WLAN, includes the Ekahau Positioning Engine (EPE) server, battery-powered Wi-Fi tags and application software. The EPE server can track the real-time location of more than 10,000 objects on one server, Ekahau reports, and calculate up to 600 locations per second.

The two companies have integrated Siemens' HiPath Wireless Manager HiGuard software, designed to manage the Wi-Fi access points and controllers, with Ekahau Site Survey (ESS Version 2.2), a software tool that companies can use to plan and deploy 802.11 a/b/g networks. ESS offers surveys, visual representation, analysis, optimization and reporting features, Roy says, which can now be directly imported into HiGuard, making it easier to deploy a Wi-Fi infrastructure.

"When a company wants to deploy a Siemens wireless LAN, they can use the site survey tool to determine where to put the access points," Roy says. "And they can use the same [ESS] results for the positions of the RTLS [access points], so now they are synchronized." Previously, separate site surveys were required for deploying Wi-Fi access points, wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) sensors, which monitor network security, and RTLS access points.

Siemens Communications and Ekahau plan to integrate their products further in the future, Roy says. "We'll look first at [customer] implementations and see how much more we can do with integration," he explains. One area where integration is expected would enable companies to track assets based onproximity. "Let's say you want to locate a device, but you want the one closest to you," Roy says. "We will look at more advanced, administrative ways to find devices and track them."

For Ekahau's part, the partnership with Siemens offers the ability to reach a variety of companies in different markets. "Siemens [Communications] is a huge group," says Tuomo Rutanen, Ekahau's VP of business development, "and really expands Ekahau's opportunities."

According to Rutanen, the reseller partnership grew out of existing customer implementations—such as the one deployed at a factory of Hymer, a European mobile home manufacturer—where the two companies were already working together. "So there was a strong impetus and desire on both sides," he says, "to get this relationship on the road."

Roy says the new partnership lets Siemens Communications walk into a potential customer's site and offer a complete solution, from WLAN connectivity to real-time tracking. "Typically, when we go to customers, they often ask for a variety of solutions—for RFID, for monitoring systems, even for providing television right at a patient's station in a hospital—and we provide the complete solution," Roy states. "But when we get to the real-time location system, this is an area where we would only recommend some products. This announcement lets us provide the entire solution, instead of just recommending. For us, at the end of the day, it is a lot easier to provide the complete solution."
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