Aruba makes waves with wireless offerings

Aruba Wireless Networks Inc. is unveiling products it says will turn enterprise wireless LAN costs inside out.

Highlighting the company’s new Wireless Grid are streamlined 802.11a/b/g access points that plug into an Ethernet wall outlet or become part of a structured cable deployment as combined access point/wall jack.

Also included is a switch, dubbed the 5100, that can take a second processing board to handle up to 3.6Gbps throughput for encrypted traffic. Switch software automates the ability for access points to handle different services, such as only 802.11a traffic, or radio frequency monitoring or location tracking.

To set up the grid, an Aruba AP 60 or 61 access point is plugged into a standard Ethernet wall jack.

Aruba says the setup eliminates the high cost of wiring and installing access points in the spaces above hanging ceilings typically found in enterprise sites (installation charges commonly range from a few hundred dollars to as much as US$1,000 per access point). Aruba now will charge a yearly fee of US$200 to cover each access point and its software and maintenance, whereas in the past, the vendor charged separately for each.

Company officials say the pricing model will let customers better afford WLANs optimized for maximum performance: lots of Aruba access points that can be quickly and easily installed, with automatic adjustments to maintain high-bandwidth connections and minimize interference.

“The main benefit of the grid is the (higher) capacity and the affordability that makes that possible,” says customer Chris Price, information facilities technician at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonais, Ill. “We could create a grid with existing access points but we’d pay a lot more to do that.”

Big auditoriums could have hundreds or even thousands of students with wireless laptops. “With the grid, we can put in a lot more access points and they can self-calibrate,” Price says.

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