Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Aruba Joins 802.11n Fight

Aruba networks last week became the last of the major enterprise wireless LAN vendors to introduce hardware for systems based on the emerging 802.11n spec for Wi-Fi networks.

To Aruba's mind, 802.11n will usher in the long-awaited shift to an all-wireless world, a transformation the vendor sees as critical to competing with Cisco Systems, which controls some 65% of the market for enterprise wireless networks. Organizations are "reaching the point where they don't need to use wired anymore," says Michael Tennefoss, Aruba's head of strategic marketing.

Executives at Cisco, which released its own "Draft 2-compatible" 802.11n gear in September, aren't quite so bullish on the migration to wireless. "I don't know an enterprise customer out there that is intending to move to an all-wireless network," says Ben Gibson, director of mobility solutions at Cisco. "I do know plenty that want to be both."

In any event, the 802.11n spec is a major transition point for enterprise wireless networking, particularly for companies that still haven't deployed Wi-Fi. The new version of the standard will offer five times the throughput of existing Wi-Fi networks, plus increased stability and reliability. Final ratification of the spec by the IEEE, already delayed several times, is now expected some time late next year or in 2009.

Both Cisco and Aruba (still a distant second to Cisco in the WLAN market) have invested millions of dollars in developing 802.11n gear. Sales of enterprise WLAN infrastructure, including controllers and access points, will grow to $7.6 billion in 2011 from less than $3 billion in 2006, says IDC senior analyst Daniel Corsetti. Almost all that growth will be in 802.11n gear, and Aruba wants to seize the opportunity to grab market share from Cisco.

  • 1