Aruba Networks is rolling out a new wireless LAN platform that is aimed at giving businesses greater insight and control over their mobile applications and the rapidly growing number of devices that are hitting their wireless networks.
The foundation of the platform—the new Aruba 7200 Series of mobility controllers armed with new capabilities in the company's Aruba AppRF technology—gives businesses significantly better network performance than comparable products from larger rival Cisco Systems at a cost that is as much as half that of similar Cisco wireless deployments, according to Sylvia Hooks, director of product marketing at Aruba.
The capabilities within the 7200 Series—including greater scalability and high availability over current products—can help businesses drive down the overall capital and operating costs of their wireless networks and enable them to move to a primarily WiFi-based communications system, reducing or eliminating the need for desktop telephones and accompanying IT support, Hooks told eWEEK.
"Budgets are tight," she said, adding that technology like Aruba's new WLAN platform enables businesses to "redirect their investments into wireless."
The WLAN market continues to grow rapidly, thanks in large part to the adoption of the cloud and the integration of wired and wireless platforms, according to analysts with market research firm Dell'Oro Group. In a Nov. 27 report, Dell'Oro said that worldwide WLAN revenue in the third quarter grew 19 percent over the same period in 2011, hitting record numbers. In addition, eight WLAN vendors also hit their highest-ever quarterly numbers, the analysts said.
Cisco remained the top spot, followed by Aruba and Hewlett-Packard, according to Dell'Oro.
"Three trends are now driving faster-than-industry growth in the enterprise WLAN segment—devices that are cloud-managed, those optimized for use by Service Providers, and systems that leverage software to integrate wireless and wired infrastructures," Chris DePuy, analyst of WLAN research at Dell'Oro, said in a statement. "We see vendors focusing innovation dollars and marketing efforts to aggressively pursue these three areas."
With the 7200 Series of mobility controllers, Aruba officials not only wanted to make it easier for businesses to securely connect devices to the wireless network—particularly given the growing trends of bring your own device (BYOD), mobile computing and remote workers—but also to gain better insight and control over the mobile applications that are coming onto the network, Hooks said.
"OK, you've connected the mobile device [to the network], but what about all those mobile applications?" she said.
Aruba officials pointed to numbers from ABI Research that showed that more than 9 billion WiFi-enabled devices have been shipped since 2009, and also noted Gartner figures that said the number of mobile application downloads will hit 310 billion by 2016. The rising number of connected devices and mobile applications are putting pressure on businesses and their wireless networks, Hooks said. The combination of the 7200 Series—which offer the 7210, 7220 and 7240 controllers—with the new features in AppRF is designed to help businesses deal with the onslaught of devices and applications, and migrate to a wireless-only infrastructure, she said.
The controllers, armed with the new AppRF technology, look at applications that are running over the network. They use Deep Packet Inspection to identify the applications; then through the vendor's Airtime Fairness and Quality of Service technology, determine which of the applications should get priority and the necessary network bandwidth to optimize application delivery. According to Aruba officials, the result is performance that is 11 times better than competing solutions.
The new AppRF features include a dashboard that can monitor application usage and greater ability to identify URL traffic. The technology not only enables businesses greater visibility into—and control over—traditional server-based applications, but also cloud- and Web-based mobile apps, Hooks said.
Along with the new AppRF software, the 7200 Series controllers are ready for the upcoming 802.11ac wireless standard, and offer 40G-bps firewall and encryption capabilities with four times the capacity of previous WLAN platforms. The new mobility controllers can support up to 32,000 devices, five times more than other solutions, according to Aruba.
With the greater performance, scalability and high availability, businesses can start reducing the size of their wired infrastructures and migrate to a wireless platform, Hooks said. They can reduce the number of wired ports and the costs to maintain them, and can start moving all their voice, video and unified communications applications over the WLAN, eliminating the various support costs that come with the associated equipment.
The 7200 Series mobility controllers are available now, starting at $16,995.