Cisco Systems is looking to bring 802.11 Draft-n WLAN standards into the enterprise with a new wireless access point that it says can deliver nine times the throughput of more established 802.11a/g wireless networks.
On Jan. 13, Cisco rolled out the Aironet 1140 wireless access point device, a dual-radio platform that uses the technology found in the 802.11 Draft 2.0 standard as well as 802.3af POE (power over Ethernet).
The Cisco Aironet 1140 platform also uses Cisco's own M-Drive Technology, which is part of Cisco's Unified Wireless Network-a radio-frequency platform that is supposed to enhance 802.11 performance. Included in Cisco's M-Drive is ClientLink, a beam-forming technology that not only improves the performance of 802.11 Draft-n, but can also increase the performance of older networks using the 802.11 a/g standards. ClientLink also increases channel capacity while making an enterprise's network easier to manage, Cisco said. ClientLink will be available to customers in the first half of 2009.
The goal of the Cisco Aironet 1140 wireless device is to move enterprises toward adopting the 802.11 Draft-n standard, while keeping Cisco ahead of competitors such as Juniper Networks and Hewlett-Packard's ProCurve division. At the same time, as more and more enterprises allow employees to use laptops and work from remote locations or home, the need for better wireless communications continues to grow.
While older networks are limited, Cisco said it believes that businesses that use 802.11 Draft-n technologies will be able to integrate voice, video on demand and rich media content into their networks. However, enterprises have been reluctant, so far, to adopt the newer 802.11 wireless standards.
"The market for 802.11 n in the enterprise is still emerging," said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research. "There are companies that are adopting it more aggressively than others, but I think in this case, this is Cisco's way of selling a value proposition to their customers."
There is also cost to consider, and Cisco is working to make WLAN networks more attractive. With the Aironet 1140, King said enterprises will be able to allow more employees to work off of a single access point using 802.11 Draft-n than they could if their networks used older 802.11 a/g standards.
In addition, it can cost less for an enterprise to install these various nodes throughout a business than to try to hook up every desk and cubicle with traditional wired networking. When the Aironet 1140 becomes available, Cisco will sell the devices in 10-packs for $12,999. However, with technology such as ClientLink, Cisco is also hoping to make sure its platforms can support legacy devices as businesses switch to the newer standards.