With the long-awaited 802.11n standard finally ratified earlier this month, I had expected to see an outpouring of marketing from all the enterprise wireless LAN companies touting the long-awaited announcement. However, as I polled the various companies over the last few weeks, I instead found that most companies were more interested in talking about their newer technology enhancements (whether those pertained to vulnerability testing, perimeter enforcement or service-level optimization) instead of focusing on the ratification of the standard and the large wealth of customers waiting to upgrade that is speculated to be out there waiting for the ratification to finally happen.
Indeed the feeling I got time and again from these companies was, with the WiFi Alliance announcing a few months ago that the ratified standard would be compatible with their Draft 2.0 certification process, that the barriers to adoption were already out of the way and that customers had nothing to worry about in this regard. While this sentiment is technically correct, I nonetheless was surprised to not see each and every wireless company trumpeting the event and hawking their wares.
Well, Aruba Networks made the first big move today (Meru's Cash for Clunkers promotion aside), announcing new hardware and some extremely aggressive pricing. In Aruba's estimation, the two biggest barriers to adoption they were seeing from prospective clients were: 1) implementers were waiting for ratification of the standard, and 2) buyers found the cost of entry too high. With the first concern now abated, Aruba's announcement takes square aim at the latter, firing the first volley in what I expect will be a long, steep, and beneficial (for the customer) price war.
First of all, Aruba announced a new access point - the AP-105. Priced at only $695, the AP-105 features 2 by 2 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), two radios (one locked to 5GHz band, the other 2.4GHz and 5GHZ capable), and a single Gigabit Ethernet port. Designed to be unobtrusive, the AP105 only offers internal antennae (no external connectors).
Like their existing lines of access points, the new AP-105 will work with all existing Aruba controllers running recent or current software revisions. Also like the other APs, customers can unlock additional features via licensing - features like mesh networking, intrusion detection sensor capabilities or remote access point secure tunneling.
In the second part of the announcement, Aruba also announced a price drop on the highest-end models of their current line of 802.11n access points - the AP-124 and AP-125. Previously priced at $1,295, these access points can now be purchased for $995 apiece. These high-end access points again feature dual radios, but with a 3 by 3 MIMO design, external antennae connectors (on the AP-124) and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The AP124 and AP125 are currently FIPS 140-2 certified, and Aruba has also submitted the AP-105 for certification, although they anticipate the process may take anywhere from three to 12 months.