As Meru Networks sees it, the enterprise network edge is going inevitably wireless -- inevitably mobile -- and that move is going to require the most robust and flexible wireless networking solutions possible.
To that end, Meru Wednesday debuted what it calls the industry's first three-stream 802.11n quad-radio access point (AP) platform. Dubbed the AP400 Mobile Edge AP platform, and also known as Teton, it's designed to service next-generation mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets, that will comprise the wireless edge of next-generation enterprise networks and that need to support high-definition video, wireless VoIP and other demanding applications.
"The new edge is untethered. By definition it's mobile," said Joel Vincent, director of marketing for Meru.. "It's not just phones and laptops, but tablets, scanners, machine-to-machine instances, everything. It's a diverse environment, but users expect the same level of connectivity and experience."
Meru compares the AP400 Mobile Edge platform as similar to that of a wired switch. It offers a maximum total data rate of 1.8 Gbps -- clocked as 450 Mbps on each radio -- in every square foot, and includes Meru's VIrtual Cell technology, which pools access points together in a wireless LAN via virtualization similar to how storage and server resources are pooled in a data center.
"Once they're deployed, and you have the virtualized wireless LAN, it basically gives you a software-configurable edge of your network," Vincent explained. "You can do things like complex RF surveys and more importantly, you can dedicate spectrum to specific things with commands to the controller."
Among the platform's features is a "WLAN 500" density mode, which optimizes the wireless network for maximum capacity, as well as client density and quality of service. Multiple AP400s can be combined, Vincent noted, to create essentially a mobile edge fabric for wireless coverage in a facility. There's also what Meru is calling "mobile application segregation," in which users can dedicate single, virtualized channels to specific applications, letting them provision or limit specific applications for designated channels as they choose.
The platform, which according to Vincent saw about two-and-a-half years of development by Meru, also leverages Meru's Orthagonal Array Beam Forming and sub-carrier-level beam forming technologies, and includes 3x3 MIMO configuration.
On the hardware devices that support AP400, there's also an on-board USB port for providing optional cellular WAN backhaul via an additional WLAN radio.
"3G offload is a huge growth area," Vincent said. "What people are doing these days is very bandwidth intensive."
The first products on the Teton platform are Meru's AP433i, AP433e, OAP433e, AP433is and AP433es access points, which will be available in the second half of the year, cover indoor and outdoor uses and include various AP400 platform features. According to Meru, previous APs like the AP300 and AP1000 are also Teton-compatible for integration with new APs.
"They don't orphan our existing products," said Vincent, although he noted that all of Meru's new access points will use the Teton platform in the future.
John Jabbusch, founder and chief engineer at Carolina Advanced Digital, a Cary, N.C.-based solution provider, said he has every confidence in Meru's new platform.
"To me, it's really a question of client density and high throughput," Jabbusch said. "They really are, in our experience, unmatched for that. Teton is an acceleration of that process, and if they can deliver what it looks like they're going to deliver, it may be the next incremental step toward a wireless edge."
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