Aruba Rolls Out Sticky Solution for 802.11ac WLANs

With new product rollouts, Aruba takes a purpose-built approach to high-speed 802.11ac Access Points.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 21, 2013
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The next wave of WiFi is coming, and WLAN leader Aruba Networks doesn't want it to be "sticky."

Today, Aruba is announcing a new series of Wave 1 802.11ac enabled access points, in addition to new Client Match technology for optimal WLAN roaming.Aruba 200

The 802.11ac WiFi standard is being rolled out in two phases, known as Wave 1 and Wave 2. Wave 1 devices are now being introduced by multiple vendors and offer the promise of up to 1.3 Gigabits per second of wireless connectivity. The future Wave 2 rollout of 802.11ac has the potential to scale WLANs up to 6 Gigabits per second.

The new Aruba 220 series APs are purpose-built for Wave 1 802.11ac. Unlike Cisco, Aruba does not have a modular AP that enables new WiFi modules to be plugged into existing APs.

Ozer Dondurmacioglu, director of product and solutions marketing at Aruba, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that his company isn't taking a modular approach. This way, customers can benefit from the latest memory and power innovations as new APs come to market.

The Aruba 220 is a dual radio device supporting both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The new AP enables increased WLAN bandwidth, with some strong wired support as well. Aruba will pack a pair of GbE wired ports into the AP with support for Ethernet Link Aggregation.

Link Aggregation makes more bandwidth available for WLAN clients, enabling high availability as well as failover.

Client Match

Aruba is also rolling out a new ArubaOS 6.3 update across its access point portfolio, featuring new Client Match capabilities for 802.11 a/b/g/n and ac devices.

"With 802.11ac, there is one big secret that few people talk about, namely that compared to 802.11 a/b/g/n, if you want to enable the maximum throughput rate you need to be close to the access point," Dondurmacioglu said. "You really need to have a good signal-to-noise ratio when talking to the AP."

The challenge is that in an enterprise environment, client devices don't always stay connected to the closest AP when roaming across a campus. As such, some devices could be connected to a more distant AP, therefore not getting the optimal WLAN speed. The problem of having devices stick with a suboptimal AP is known as the "sticky client" issue.

Instead of letting individual devices make the decision on which AP to connect to, with Client Match the decision is made for the individual device by the WLAN infrastructure.

"We're steering clients between radios and APs," Dondurmacioglu said. "This is technology that will improve overall wireless LAN health."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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