The Faces of WLAN

They are companies as different as their leaders. But as Aruba Wireless Networks and Airespace focus on common competitors such as Cisco, they are taking tricks out of each other's playbooks.

They are companies as different as their leaders.

At Aruba Wireless Networks, the watchwords have been sales and channel. Under the direction of CEO Don LeBeau, a former Cisco Systems Inc. sales vice president with a penchant for catchphrases and seal-the-deal handshakes, Aruba has used its market savvy to capture large customers such as Inc., eBay Inc., AT&T Corp. and Google Inc.

For Airespace Inc. CEO Brett Galloway, a former engineer, the focus has long been technology, specifically security, helping to win over users in the financial sector.

Now, as each company focuses on common competitors such as Cisco, their methods are necessarily expanding along with their product lines and sales forces. Airespace is bolstering its sales channels, and Aruba is trying out a new technology strategy.

Aruba, of Sunnyvale, Calif., this week will introduce several new products that extend the companys wireless grid architecture strategy to protect customers against interior security threats on their wired and wireless networks.

"The wired network was never meant to support mobility," LeBeau said, describing a scenario in which a company employee hooks up to an unsecured wireless hot spot while on the road, then comes to the office and plugs his laptop into an Ethernet port. If the laptop is still trying to hook up to a wireless hot spot, it might pose a security threat.

"Because wireless exists, it destroys the perimeter," LeBeau said. "Suddenly, your enterprise ports are in the parking lot."

Arubas wireless grid architecture, which the company launched in August, consists of centrally controlled, inexpensive, densely deployed access points that sit in walls or on the floor, rather than in the ceiling. The new products, due to customers early next year, include a centralized policy engine and a controller, which enforce security policies for wired and wireless networks. The Aruba 6100 Grid Controller supports 8G bps of unencrypted or 7.2G bps of encrypted traffic. New Grid Control System software enables the controllers to be clustered and to support up to 256G bps, officials said.

And a new wired grid point, the Aruba 2E, is designed to secure a customers wired Ethernet ports. It uses GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation) tunneling to move data to the grid controller, where policies can be enforced. Officials said the 2E will cost about $150 per port. Pricing for the other products will be announced upon availability.

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