Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

By Naomi Graychase

November 14, 2007

Aruba Networks releases its first generation of 802.11n APs and controllers.

Rather than getting in the game early, Aruba Networks decided to waited patiently for the second generation of 802.11n chips before it released its n-based products. Last week, the wait was over and Aruba announced what it calls “a new generation of ultra high-performance multi-service mobility controllers and 802.11n access points.”

“We are the last manufacturer to release an 11n product family,” says Michael Tennefoss, Head of Strategic Marketing for Aruba. “We waited for the second generation of chips—we used the newest Atheros chips—that addressed problems with previous chips. Our product was ready in June, but we waited for the next generation of chips that support DFS.”

Aruba’s new line makes it possible to converge 802.11n WLANs, firewall-enforced user access control, cellular-to-Wi-Fi integration, and secure remote access into one unified mobile network with speeds that rival those of a much-pricier wired network.

“We have announced a new unified mobility solution, based on a number of new products that we have. ‘Unified mobility’ is a category, as we define it, that includes WLANs, identity-based security, fixed mobile convergence [FMC], and remote access solutions. No matter whether you are in an office or at home or on the road, you are able to access into the enterprise and have applications delivered reliably,” says Tennefoss.

Aruba’s new multi-service mobility module can be used with new, or retrofitted to existing, MMC-5000 and MMC-6000 multi-service mobility controllers, and features a 32-core, multi-threaded network processor with dedicated cryptographic core processors. A field-reprogrammable Aruba mobility controller chip boosts performance and enables functionality to be modified in the field. The MMC-6000 Multi-Service Mobility Controller offers up to 80Gbps throughput and supports up to 32,768 users, 2,048 local access points, and 8,192 remote access points. The remote access points create a simple and secure solution for connecting remote users and sites.

“We are now at a point, where because of the performance of 11n, the capability of wireless now rivals a copper network,” says Tennefoss. “It changes the economics. Now you have the option of installing an all wireless workplace and not all the expenses of additions and moves and changes over time. You can deploy it once and then modify the facility as you need to. The combination of 11n wireless performance, plus some other standards like 11i for security and 11e for voice, means that you can have a powerful wireless service that can deliver services comparable to wired. We can have a more mobile workforce with people deployed where we need them, people working from home, with full access to all the normal information while on the road as at your desk. The wireless solution offers tremendous advantages in making it implementable [sic].”

Aruba has also expanded its controller line-up by introducing the MMC-3000 Multi-Service Mobility Controller family, which is aimed at small- to medium-sized enterprises. These three controllers provide up to 8Gbps throughput and support up to 2,048 users, 128 local access points, and 512 remote access points.

Also announced last week, Aruba’s new dual-radio AP-124 and AP-125 802.11n Access Point family. Featuring 3x3 Multiple-In Multiple-Out (MIMO) operation, a field upgradeable design, and dynamic frequency selection (DFS) support, the new access points can be used for wireless access, intrusion detection monitoring, traffic analysis, secure enterprise mesh, or remote access point applications. The mode of operation is determined by network-downloadable software, which allows the APs to be re-purposed and updated without the expense of physically accessing the device.

The access points include automatic Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) management that adjusts the number of MIMO streams based on available PoE current. A local 5VDC power source is provided for non-PoE applications.

To protect access points installed in unsecured areas, or during use in distributed encryption modes of operation, security credentials can be stored in a TPM microcontroller.

“The TPM module provides protection of certificates. If your AP is lost or stolen, your enterprise network is not sacrificed. The module protects the integrity of the security certificates,” says Tennefoss.

Aruba sets itself apart from competitors by focusing on integration and space-saving designs.

“We started from a different perspective,” says Tennefoss. “We want to build the world’s most powerful and flexible hardware and offer it in one integrated system. We have led the market in terms of power available in our various controller products. With the introduction of our new line, we have increased the power by an order of magnitude.

“We can do what [our competitors] do in a single platform with everything integrated together and with the capability of supporting what’s already installed, but with the capacity of growing as their budget or needs grow with out having to change the underlying infrastructure.”

Naomi Graychase is Managing Editor at Wi-FiPlanet.



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