Xirrus Unveils Wireless LAN Array

The Wi-Fi hardware startup's flagship product combines a WLAN switch and up to 16 integrated access points into a single circular device.

Wi-Fi hardware startup Xirrus Inc. this week debuted its flagship product, which combines a WLAN switch and up to 16 integrated access points into a single circular device.

The Wireless LAN Array is composed of a controller, which manages spectrum and directs packet flow at the media access control level; an antenna system designed to increase both rate and range of the network; and AP (access point) radios that support a combination of 802.11a, b and g.

In the top-of-the-line version of the array, there are 12 802.11a AP radios and four 802.11a/b/g AP radios, one of which can be used as an RF (radio frequency) monitor.

The array also comes in four-AP and eight-AP.

Radios are easily swapped out and replaced, officials said, but they are not hot-swappable.

A single 16-AP array can cover up to 100,000 square feet and provide up to 864M bps of bandwidth, according to officials at Xirrus in Westlake Village, Calif.

Beta testers said this is a selling point.

"We tend to have pretty spiky usage," said Paul Rosenbaum, associate headmaster and chief operating officer at Viewpoint Academy, a K-12 private school in Calabasas, Calif., which is testing a 16-radio array. "All the kids are here at the same time."

In addition to the arrays, Xirrus is introducing management hardware for large enterprise deployments.

The XM-3300 comes in three versions, which manage up to 10, 50 or 500 arrays, respectively.

It allows for centralized control of the network beyond basic packet control, with features such as rogue AP detection, firmware upgrades and authentication.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about WLAN switch maker Trapeze Networks partnership with Nortel.

Xirrus also is introducing a remote DC power system for the arrays.

The Xirrus product line is due to hit the market in May.

Arrays cost from $3,999 to $11,999. Pricing for the management appliance ranges from $4,999 to $24,999.

Xirrus is led by CEO Dirk Gates, the former founder and CEO of Xircom Inc., a successful PC Card company that he sold to Intel Corp. in 2001.

/zimages/4/28571.gifWLAN switch maker Aruba Networks announced a reselling and development deal with Alcatel. Click here to read more.

So far, Xirrus is funded only by its founders, and Gates said he wants it that way.

"If in this process another venture capitalist comes along and gives us value other than capital, well look at that," Gates said.

"But we believe we can continue to fund the company through profitability."

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