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Aruba Brings SaaS To Multi-Vendor WLAN Management

WLAN vendor Aruba Networks has announced AirWave on Demand (AoD), a Software as a Service (SaaS) edition of their multi-vendor WLAN management tool.  AoD features the same WLAN management, identification, monitoring and security functionality of the server-based AirWave Wireless Management Suite, but hosted at Aruba's data center. Subscriptions will be available on a monthly or annual basis, and there will be opportunities for resellers to remarket the service. The service is in early customer deployment phase and will be generally available starting in December 2009.
Aruba's AirWave on Demand joins a number of WLAN vendors, including Meraki and most recently Aerohive, in offering a hosted management solution.  Since its acquisition by Aruba in January 2008, the Airwave Management Suite has not only become the de facto WLAN management solution for Aruba's own wireless gear, but has maintained its legacy of vendor neutral support, supporting 15 different vendors including Cisco, HP and Motorola. This history of support is carried over to the online solution, making it a true enterprise WLAN solution.
This new SaaS offering from Aruba opens the AirWave product to a number of new markets that the in-house server offering couldn't address.  Like its competitors, AirWave on Demand might be an attractive option for smaller and mid-sized enterprises that are not interested in the additional capital expense of servers to house the management software.  Additionally, geographically disparate enterprises could also favor an online solution, centralizing management at Aruba's data center instead of funneling all of the management traffic back to their own.
There is another opportunity for AirWave on Demand that its competitors cannot even begin to address. Many enterprises are dealing with heterogeneous wireless networks, and the management of multiple wireless networks built from the gear of various vendors can be a nightmare.  For these type of customers, AirWave's multi-vendor support has always been a compelling option, and an online option could serve as a stopgap measure until the enterprise can move to a common WLAN platform.  Ultimately, it is up to the enterprise customer to decide whether its WLAN management is best served in-house or in the cloud.