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.

Microsoft Picks Aruba Over Cisco For Mega Wireless Net

It's impressive when a fast-growing startup such as Aruba Wireless Networks Inc. adds another big-name customer to its roster. It's all the more so because Aruba stole its latest customer--none other than Microsoft--away from networking leader Cisco Systems.

The win is notable for several reasons. Aruba is a fraction of the size of Cisco, and Cisco was the incumbent wireless infrastructure provider for Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., campus. Microsoft confirms it will replace its Cisco-based wireless LAN infrastructure with equipment from Aruba, which will be deployed in 277 buildings and cover more than 17 million square feet.

Switching system runs Aruba's success, CEO LeBeau says.

Switching system runs Aruba's success, CEO LeBeau says.

And Aruba is making a name for itself. Other customers include eBay, Yahoo, and Google. All three are using Aruba's wireless LAN equipment, which consists of controllers, software, and "thin" access points, which leave most of the workload to the controller. The equipment's strong security features help keep outsiders from hacking into corporate networks, says Craig Mathias, an analyst with wireless advisory firm Farpoint Group.

At the heart of Aruba's success is a switching system that centralizes 802.11i security functions, including wireless encryption, authentication, and user-access controls. Some other vendors support those functions at network access points, but that's not ideal because access points serve as gateways to a company network, posing a potential security threat. Aruba also allows encrypted wireless traffic to be carried over a wire network, further reducing security threats, says Don LeBeau, the company's president and CEO.

Aruba's system also supports thin access points--as many as 512 of them. That provides a lot of room for scalability, says Joel Conover, an analyst with research firm Current Analysis. Cisco supports up to 36 thin access points per switch, which means a company going the Cisco route would have to buy more switches.

  • 1