Running the new Wi-Fi 802.11ac protocol, APs will offer at least 1 Gbps. Plus, HP to offer wireless cloud management

Organizations increasingly building mixed wired and wireless networks. However, ensuring users have consistent experiences as they switch back and forth can be a problem.

Hewlett-Packard Co. announced a number of solutions Monday at Interop Las Vegas aimed at solving these and other problems for enterprise campuses and small and medium sized businesses.

Among the offerings are HP’s first access points able to run the just-approved 802.11ac standard, which promises speeds of up to 1 Gbps under ideal conditions and a cloud-based wireless management service.

The new access points are the HP 560 802.11ac Dual Radio – available now for US$1,119 — and the 517 802.11ac access point, which fits into a wall electrical outlet box – available next month for US$499.

“One of the key benefits of these access points is they are OpenFlow-capable, which enables software defined networking,” Kash Shaikh, global marketing leader with Hewlett-Packard Networking, said in an interview.

“We have 50 switches that are OpenFlow-capable. Now we are extending that leadership with wireless to provide the benefit to customers. If they are ready for SDN they can turn it on. If not, they can use them as traditional access points.”

To ensure consistent policy management across wired and wireless networks HP is introducing two more unified controllers for enterprises.

The HP 870 Unified Wired-WLAN Appliance supports up to 1,536 AP and 30,000 devices and is available now for US$35,999, while the HP 850 Unified Wired-WLAN Appliance supports up to 10,000 will be available in June. Pricing was not announced.

Both have integrated wireless controllers and Ethernet switches, and link to HP’s Intelligent Management Center to allow administrators to impose identical policies on wired and wireless networks.

To further take a load off administrators in small and medium-sized businesses, as well as branches of enterprises, the company announced its intention to launch HP Cloud Managed Network in June for remotely managing wireless networks.

The subscription based service will only require customers to plug in qualifying HP access points to their networks and HP will do the rest.

Customers  “will have lower up front costs considering they don’t have to buy a controller, which is the case with traditional cloud-managed wireless LAN offering,” Shaikh said.

Pricing has yet to be announced. The service comes with next business day replacement of access points if hardware fails, plus 24×7 support for up to three years.

Finally, with wireless as part of the announcements the company also talked about its new  HP Location Aware application, an optional plug-in to its Virtual Application Networks SDN controller that will enable new Wi-Fi location-based services.

The application can locate any wireless-enabled  device indoors within up to two metres, Shaikh said.

“It creates new opportunities for search for inventory, asset tracking or new business models in retail,” he said.

A prototype app called “Smart Shopper” from HP Labs has been created to show how it could be used to push coupons to passers-by to improve sales. Pricing wasn’t announced.

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