WLAN switch turn-on for retail

Branch office and retail store wireless technology got a boost from vendors at the National Retail Federation show in New York this week.

Aruba Networks Inc. on Monday launched a new branch office and retail switch that handles Wide and Local Area Network traffic.

The new Aruba 200 Mobility Controller is available now and starts at US$1,750. It is designed for branch offices and retail stores with up to 100 users over six WiFi access points, and is easy for non-technical workers to set up and run, Aruba officials said.

In addition, it has an interface for a LAN at Gigabit Ethernet speeds. The controller, at 1.1-by-6.7-by-9.5 inches and two pounds, is smaller and lighter than comparable switches.

One Aruba customer has already deployed the new controllers in 12 stores in shopping malls where they are used to support customer kiosks. the retailer, who could not be reached for comment, has plans to expand to other locations, Aruba officials said.

Aruba’s 200 Mobility Controller will be popular because of its size and ease of deployment, said Craig Mathias, an analyst at The Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass.

Aruba also announced a new Mobility Management System, which can be used to view an entire network with thousands of access points. The software alone starts at $3,995; the all-in-one appliance starts at $21,995.

Also on Monday, Symbol Technologies Inc. and IBM jointly announced that Symbol’s WS5120 wireless switch is now being offered as an IBM BladeCenter appliance to aid in centralized management. Both the IBM/Symbol and Aruba technologies are designed to offer simplicity for deployment and greater manageability, the companies said.

Symbol’s WS5120 switch can be used in larger offices; Its WS2000 switch is more comparable to the Aruba device, Symbol officials and analysts said.

Aruba competes in the wireless LAN market with several other large equipment vendors, including Cisco Systems Inc., Symbol and Trapeze Networks Inc.

In an unrelated netwokring announcement, Smoothstone IP Communications in Louisville, Ky. announced a managed IP communications service for medium-sized businesses.

The service operates on Cisco gear and provides local dial tone in 5,800 U.S. calling areas, while offering a full range of services such IP voice, data and video communications as well as videoconferencing, said Jeff Wellemeyer, chairman and CTO.

Smoothstone services are estimated to cost $45 per user each month, and customers can expect to see a reduction in monthly communications costs of 20 per cent to 30 per cent, Wellemeyer said.

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