Microsoft Corp. is replacing its massive corporate wireless LAN with equipment from Aruba Wireless Networks.
The WLAN will include some 5,000 centrally managed access points as well as an undisclosed number of WLAN switches covering 277 buildings on the Redmond, Wash., campus and branch offices in more than 60 countries.
Spanning more than 17 million square feet and serving up to 25,000 sessions at once, it will be among the worlds biggest corporate Wi-Fi networks. The installation already has begun, said officials at Aruba, in Sunnyvale, Calif.
The new WLAN gear will replace a 6-year-old network that comprises wireless access points from Cisco Systems Inc. "Its a watershed moment for the industry," said Aruba CEO Don LeBeau. "Microsofts decision to migrate to the next-generation wireless technology indicates a major shift toward the centrally managed infrastructure for the mobile work force."
Cisco long eschewed the idea of stand-alone WLAN switches and thin access points but changed its tune, acquiring Aruba competitor Airespace Inc. earlier this year. In fact, Ciscos acquisition of Airespace led to Aruba winning the Microsoft account, according to several industry sources, who said Microsoft didnt want another Cisco-based system.
Microsoft officials declined to comment on the decision process.
Arubas contract with Microsoft includes plans to collaborate on the development of both products and future industry standards, which should benefit customers other than Microsoft, said LeBeau, who acknowledged that serving a customer with the size and reputation of Microsoft will be "a challenge."
"A very large, tough customer like Microsoft might swallow them up, but I would bet that it will force Aruba to improve the administration of its technology to reduce the need for customer support," said John Greiner, chief technology officer of Legal Services for New York City, an Aruba customer. "Overall, administration and notification setup could be simplified. While it may be simpler than Cisco, it is much more complex and labor-intensive than nonsecure wireless. For smaller organizations such as LSNY, there are no dedicated wireless engineers."