Unified edge switches, like D-Link's new DWS-3160 model, allow management of both wired and wireless clients from the same device. So instead of requiring a separate central WLAN controller to manage the wireless APs in an office, plus a separate switch to handle wired LAN traffic, a unified switch architecture allows the switch itself to fulfil either or both roles. This can help simplify network management and lower overall costs.
The DWS-3160 is a 24-port Gigabit Layer 2+ switch, with two variants — the base DWS-3160-24TC model and the DWS-3160-24PC that adds power-over-Ethernet (PoE) capabilities. Both models have 20 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) LAN ports plus four combo ports that can be configured either as GbE ports or SFP slots. These slots can take a variety of optical transceivers. There's also a front-mounted RJ-45 console port plus an SD Card slot. The units can be connected to an optional redundant power supply (D-Link models DPS-200 or DPS-700, depending on the switch version) via a special connector at the rear. It's a standard 1U rackmount unit, but can also be used as a desktop model.
Licences are included for controlling up to 12 D-Link Unified APs (such as the DWL-2600AP, DWL-3600AP, DWL-6600AP and DWL-8600AP), and additional licences can be bought (as 12- or 24-pack upgrades) to allow control of up to 48 APs from a single switch. Using a switch cluster, a maximum of 192 APs can be controlled. The device can integrate with D-Link's D-View management software, or can be managed from the web-based management console.
Wireless management features include the ability to automatically adjust the channels and transmitter output of each AP, depending on the local conditions around each AP. Load balancing between APs can be implemented, and pre-authentication and key caching techniques allow users to roam freely within the coverage area. If used with other switches in peer mode, client IPv4 tunnels can be used to allow roaming of clients between APs on different subnets.
The DWS-3160-24TC costs around £1,111 (ex. VAT), while the -24PC version is around £1,855 (ex. VAT). Both products are available immediately and a list of suppliers can be found on the D-Link website.