Aruba Unwires N+I Network
However, Aruba's network won't be open to the public attending the show, because the equipment from 802.11 switch contender is being used only to provide wireless access to the private network for staff and exhibitors.
In fact, it is something of an irony that a show focusing on 802.11's ability to provide ubiquitous high-speed wireless access will not actually make that access available to delegates.
Aruba, a wireless LAN startup, has provided around 30 access points and one of its switching boxes for the implementation. These will provide "pockets" of 802.11a (54-Mbit/s over 5GHz) and 802.11b (11-Mbit/s over 2.4Ghz) coverage on the show floor, in exhibitors' rooms and in meeting rooms, according to Geoff Horne, senior network engineer in charge of NetWorld+Interop's eNet.
"We have [wireless] presence just about everywhere," says Horne. But not, alas, for everyone.
Aruba's wireless LAN box (some call it a switch, some a smart media hub) connects up to "dumb" access points via Ethernet cabling and handles higher-level tasks such as access management, traffic monitoring, and security, all while sitting quietly in the wiring closet (see Aruba's Switch Pitch for more on Aruba's equipment).
Horne says there are three reasons why N+I went with the Aruba kit. All the access points can be managed from one central box. The Aruba system supports both the a and b standards. And the Aruba system is "adaptive." This means he can monitor traffic levels and increase or decrease the strength of WLAN radio signals in certain areas if required, as well as controlling user access rights.
"And it sits in a rack connected to my network, just like a normal switch," says Horne. Horne doesn't know exactly what the final configuration of the Aruba side of the eNet network will look like yet, because it is still being set up. "But with the current configuration we only need one switch."
N+I 2003 could turn out to be the event that really brings wireless LAN "switching" in all its forms to the attention of the wider networking community (see Vivato's Switch Bitch and Switch Tiff Heats Up for more on the fascinating debate about what really constitutes a wireless LAN switch).
Contenders in this emerging market like Aruba, Trapeze Networks Inc., and Vivato Inc. will all be spinning the wheel of WLAN fortune in Vegas in April.
— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung