Aruba Outlines FMC Strategy
Aruba says that the move to FMC has already begun. The firm belives that the market will continue to grow and evolve over the next few years. Initially this involves scaling networks to handle voice-over-WiFi in preparation for enterprises starting to incorporate more combination wired and wireless services in the first half of next year. Aruba says carriers will start to integrate more FMC capabilities later in 2007. Its roadmap ambitiously anticipates that "seamless" integration between enterprise wired and wireless networks and wide-area cellular deployments will be happening by 2008. "The markets are converging," says Keerti Melkote, VP of product management and marketing. "A new class of devices has entered the market."
Aruba product manager Peter Thornycroft says that dualmode devices have started to arrive on the market from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK). He expects more to arrive over the next six months.
In order to support the forthcoming FMC devices and services, Aruba is further opening up its code and moving to support more WiFi standards. The firm will later extend the capabilities of its mobility controller so that it can help with call transfers.
"This is all based on open standards," says Thornycroft.
A key standard is the WiFi Multimedia (WMM) specification, which is based on 802.11e. This technology maintains the priority of voice packets in a WiFi network so that other traffic is less likely to add delays to a call. Security standards include WiFi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2).
In the initial enterprise phase, Aruba is opening up APIs (programming hooks) for other vendors to integrate their IP-PBXes with its mobility controller. Later in 2007, it will update its controller so that that it can operate as "Aruba's handover helper," according to Thornycroft. In this mode, the controller will monitor when devices reach the edge of the WiFi network and initiate calls out over the cellular network.
The final phases of Aruba's plan in 2007 and 2008 will involve supporting carrier-side FMC standards such as unlicensed mobile access (UMA) and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). Melkote says the firm will work to make its controller work with UMA gateways. This will involve making the controller "look" like a hotspot to the UMA network elements.
Following that in 2008, Aruba is looking at potential integration with IMS elements in cellular networks.
Such an extensive roadmap from a startup may be a trifle surprising, but it is already clear that enterprise FMC will be a competitive market, and the phased approach could help to show customers that Aruba is serious about converging cellular, wired, and WLAN networks. Already Aruba's major rival in the enterprise WiFi market, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), is working with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) on integrating dualmode devices into its own WiFi infrastructure.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung