Aruba Networks is rolling out 802.11ac offerings that not only enable organizations to take advantage of the faster WiFi standard, but also optimize how the rapidly growing number of mobile devices connect to the WiFi network.
Aruba officials May 21 unveiled the company's new Aruba 220 Series access points (APs) that were built specifically for 802.11ac—a different approach than rival Cisco Systems' 802.11ac modules for its Aironet 3600 Series APs—as well as Aruba's new ClientMatch technology, which they said resolves the problem of "sticky clients."
ClientMatch allows organizations to leverage 11ac, Ozer Dondurmacioglu, director of product and solutions marketing at Aruba, told eWEEK.
The 802.11ac standard promises to give businesses more speed and bandwidth, which are becoming increasingly important as more devices—including smartphones and tablets as part of the larger bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend—hit the networks and users adopt more bandwidth-intensive applications. The 802.11ac standard—which is being released in two waves—operates at the 5GHz level, compared with other 802.11 standards, which run at 2.4GHz.
Tech vendors are bringing out a range of 802.11ac-based offerings. Broadcom earlier this month announced StrataGX systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) based on ARM's architecture and aimed at 802.11ac access points, while Motorola Solutions at the Interop 2013 show this month reportedly announced three new 802.11ac access points.
Cisco officials last month unveiled the 802.11ac Wave 1 module for its Aironet 3600 AP. The module lets the hundreds of thousands of 3600 AP customers get 802.11ac capabilities without having to invest in a new appliance, the officials said. However, Aruba's Dondurmacioglu said the company avoided the modular approach and went with 802.11ac-specific APs to enable users to get all the benefits—including improved memory and power and cost savings—that will come with the appliances.
Aruba's 220 Series APs use less power and include a power-efficient mode, according to the company.
"We prefer a purpose-built AP," he said.
The dual-radio 220 Series APs support both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and offer two Gigabit Ethernet ports to get maximum speed on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The APs can support a greater density of devices with speeds of up to 1.75G bps. In addition, they're smaller than competitive APs—making them faster and easier to install—and use two radios rather than three, helping to drive down their costs, Aruba officials said.
Aruba's ClientMatch technology—part of the new ArubaOS 6.3 operating system—is a key differentiator, according to Dondurmacioglu. Currently, it's the devices that tend to decide which access point to connect to, which isn't always the best one, he said. The result of these clients staying with a particular access point—the "sticky client" problem—is that performance can be impacted if the device moves away from the AP.
ClientMatch is designed to shift the connection decision away from the client. Instead, as the clients move around the enterprise, the ClientMatch technology will ensure that they are always connected to the best possible AP within the Aruba wireless LAN, ensuring optimum mobile device performance, Dondurmacioglu said. Testing has shown that an Aruba WLAN with ClientMatch offered up to 94 percent better device performance than was seen on a Cisco WLAN, he said. In addition, 98 percent of the mobile devices had a better signal quality.
ClientMatch uses real-time performance metrics from mobile devices and data gathered from monitoring radio frequency conditions for each AP to steer clients to the best AP, according to Aruba officials.
The Aruba 220 Series AP will be available in June, starting at $1,295. ClientMatch also will be available in June as part of ArubaOS 6.3. Also included in the OS update will be new capabilities to give organizations greater visibility into their Microsoft Lync unified communications environments.