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Aruba Touts Security, 802.11n Plans

Aruba's eFMC (enterprise Fixed Mobile Convergence) announcement promises to allow dual-mode handsets to use Wi-Fi over their Aruba infrastructure, whether in the office or remotely--using their new access point software--and it enables seamless roaming from Wi-Fi to cellular. The solution, which requires a SIP interface into the corporate PBX, appears to be very similar to the ones currently offered by DiVitas Networks and Siemens.

Meanwhile, though Aruba hasn't made any formal 802.11n product announcement, it's 802.11n white paper addresses the benefits and technical aspects that encompass this latest wireless LAN standard at a level of detail that no other vendor has yet matched. Aruba is surprisingly bold in its warning to enterprises to not rollout pre-802.11n systems, but use this time between the Wi-Fi Alliance 802.11n Draft 2.0 standard and final IEEE 802.11 ratification to perform trials.

Those who have been awed by the 600-Mbps figures spouted in press releases and news stories will benefit from this sober assessment. While there may be some spin on architecture, the technical elements are calmly discussed and appropriate warnings given.

One important take away is that the performance degradation of mixed-mode deployments (802.11a/b/g and 802.11n) will be so significant that unless organizations aggressively replace legacy clients, it's hardly worth expending capital for the upgrade. Since true greenfields are relatively few and rip-and-replace is probably not the CIO's favorite approach, the most prudent tactic appears to be an overlay of 802.11n-capable APs on a totally separate 5-GHz channel plan.
Frank Bulk
Contributing Editor

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