Aruba Builds Out AirMesh

By Sean Michael Kerner

April 04, 2011

New Wi-Fi mesh networking gear rolls out from wireless vendor as it integrates Azalea technology.

Wireless networking vendor Aruba (NASDAQ:ARUN) is updating its Wi-Fi mesh technology this week.

The new AirMesh outdoor wireless product portfolio builds on technologies that Aruba picked up with its acquisition of Azalea Networks for $40 million in May of 2010.

The new AirMesh products include new routers as well as the MeshOS operating system software. Greg Murphy, vice president and general manager of outdoor, mesh and industrial at Aruba told InternetNews.com that the first generation of mesh products from Aruba and other wireless vendors were not designed for the modern demands of video.

Murphy noted that mesh was first deployed as a way to blanket a municipal area to provide wi-fi connectivity, though there was often performance degradation with each hop. The new AirMesh products from Aruba are intended to move beyond the limitations of first generation mesh with better performance and routing characteristics.

At the core of the AirMesh portfolio is the MSR4000, which is a four radio 802.11n device. Each radio has up to 300 mbps of capacity, giving the access point up to 1.2 Gbps of total wireless performance. The MSR4000 is also a triple band radio with the ability to operate in the 2.4, 5 or 4.9 GHz spectrum.

Murphy explained that the MSR4000 could sit at the center of a mesh network, where two of the four radio are used for backhaul to ensure performance and reliability. The AirMesh portfolio also includes the MSR2000, which is a dual-radio 802.11n router and the MST200, single-radio 802.11n router.

On the software side, MeshOS enables each of the AirMesh routers with capabilities that have been integrated from Azalea's mobile matrix technology. MeshOS has the ability to do fast handoffs across nodes as well, such that the mesh can be used to support wireless access in a moving vehicle.

"Each node is aware of all the other nodes on the network and all of the client devices that are connected," Murphy said.

Murphy added that first generation mesh networks typically required traffic to be routed back to a controller where it could determine where to go. With the AirMesh approach, Aruba is using a layer-3 approach where each router is able to determine the most efficient route to get to the intended destination.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.



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