Its 800 product is a $2,995 eight-port switch that supports Power-over-Ethernet (POE) and which Aruba says can handle up to 256 users. The firm is calling the switch a "WiFi mux" (multiplexer) as it can be used on the edge of the network to route traffic back from multiple different brands of access points to a single Aruba 500 switch in a central office wiring closet. Such access points can be automatically configured and centrally managed via generic routing encapsulated (GRE) IP tunnels.
"You can take $50 access points and truly get performance at low cost," claims Keerti Melkote, VP of product management and marketing at Aruba.
However, customers using generic access points won't be able to control radio signal strength in the same way that they could using Aruba's own brand access point, because the switch can't "talk" to the radio. "Yeah, you're not going to get the radio control stuff," confirms Melkote.
Meta Group Inc. analyst Chris Kozup believes that adding the smaller box was a necessary move for Aruba. Customers, Kozup says, may look at the original 500 switch (which can support up to 72 ports) and ask: "Why do I need all of this port density?" All of the startups are busy tweaking their product plans to fit what the customer actually wants, Kozup notes. "I think you've seen all of the [startup] WLAN switch vendors come out with adjustments to their products."
Aruba is also pitching the 800 as a box that can be used as an intrusion detection appliance, after the customer buys a $2,000 software application to run on the box. Melkote says that the application can detect "attack patterns" and handle emerging tools such as "ASLEAP", recently covered by Unstrung (see LEAPing Attack Tools, Batman!).
— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung