Aruba Networks on Wednesday expanded its 802.11n product portfolio with a new wireless access point designed to take advantage of the recently-ratified 802.11n wireless standard and present a lower-cost alternative to channel partners from other enterprise-class access point products.
Aruba's AP-105 802.11n Access Point measures 5.2 inches by 5.3 inches by 1.8 inches, weighs 10.56 ounces, and includes dual radio, 2x2 MIMO design, delivering up to 300 Mbps per radio.
Among other features, the Access Point also boasts integrated antennas to support both wall and ceiling mounting, 802.3af Power over Ethernet capability, and a software reconfiguration feature that allows users to repurpose the Access Point for connectivity, mesh, intrusion sensor and remote access applications.
The AP-105 Access Point is priced at $695. Aruba also lowered the prices of two higher-end access points, the AP-124 and AP-125 Access Points, from $1,295 to $995 each.
"There are two hurdles we're overcoming here," said Michael Tennefoss, head of strategic marketing services for Aruba, in a Channelweb.com interview. "First has been the long-delayed ratification of the 11n standard. The second hurdle's been pricing. Many IT managers have been holding because they've been waiting for 802.11n to drop to the pricing levels of 802.11a, b or g. They don't want to pay a premium unless they're going to be getting premium performance beyond the norm. This is intended to break through that price barrier and offer enterprise class performance and security at the price of an a/b/g access point."
For Aruba VARs, Tennefoss said, a low-priced Access Point gives them a sales hook for customers that want to migrate beyond 802.11a/b/g to the richer performance of 802.11n environments, but are concerned about expensive upgrades.
Tennefoss said Aruba is also planning to offer rebates through its channel partners to customers who can present evidence they've turned in or destroyed competitors' products -- a program Aruba said partners should contact Aruba directly about for more details.
Like many vendors specializing in wireless LAN, Aruba considers 802.11n the death knell for wired Ethernet as the dominant LAN technology in the enterprise. Tennefoss cited data from The Yankee Group stating that by 2012, barely three percent of enterprises will have no wireless LAN access and that 40 percent of enterprises have "no plans" to deploy gigabit Ethernet to desktops in the future.
Now that the 802.11n standard has been ratified, many enterprises that were tentative on adoption of 802.11n products before will start to embrace them in droves, he said.
"We've crossed the point where wireless adoption is a question mark," Tennefoss said. "For channel partners, there are tremendous benefits to offer customers. I think the network rightsizing message resonates really well -- it's a very channel friendly kind of message and a message of proving analytically what kind of savings people can see."
As it continues to build out its enterprise WLAN product portfolio around 802.11n, Aruba has also stepped up its competitive rhetoric.
In a presentation to Channelweb.com, Tennefoss sized the AP 105 up against comparable products from Motorola, Cisco, HP, Meru Networks, Trapeze, Ruckus Wireless and Aerohive. The AP 105, at $695, is the cheapest Access Point of its kind, he said, and in terms of available features compared to competitors, "we crush them."
"You don't have to cut features to be competitively priced," Tennefoss said. "You can go in with a fully featured, secure system and still be underpriced. Ours is a value price. It puts tremendous competitive pressure on HP, Cisco, Meru and others. There's no simple solution to compete with this. They'd have to redesign their products."