Anyone with a pulse in IT knows that wireless networking is muscling out wired Ethernet at home and in business. At a recent Aruba Networks' conference, I was struck by the real-world relevance of the event's running mantra of "wireless where you can, wired where you must." That simple phrase is playing out in my own very large WLAN, where wireless pervades as the main connectivity option for most users, with the patch cable still revered for a shrinking minority of devices. In a recent TCMnet interview, Xirrus CEO Dirk Gates explained how his philosophy goes even further into kissing off wired Ethernet to the desktop through deployment of Xirrus 802.11n Wi-Fi arrays.
Gates discussed how Xirrus walks the talk with an entirely wireless corporate IT infrastructure. He gives examples of current customers that have leveraged the Xirrus Wi-Fi array to greatly reduce the number of access points required (17 arrays replaced 300 access points in one case) and to lower overall total cost of ownership (TCO) while delivering speeds that surpass Fast Ethernet.
There are certainly other WLAN makers in the market that have unique tales to tell--Meru Networks' single-cell architecture, Aerohive's controllerless WLAN, and Meraki's cloud controller, for example---but Xirrus is unique in that they simply don't distribute large number of APs that talk back to the magic in the middle.
Instead, the Xirrus model aggregates radio hardware, antennas and feature sets normally found in competitors' large central controllers into their various, strange-looking 802.11n Wi-Fi Array models. They also have a number of test results to show equal or superior performance when weighed against competing architectures.
How does Xirrus deliver more with less? A quick look at the XN16 Wi-Fi Array specs shows capabilities that make run-of-the-mill access points seem like wiffle balls: 16 aggregated 11n access points in one UFO-looking package, support for 1000+ users, coverage to 125,000 square feet and integrated controller and threat sensors. Impressive numbers, but Xirrus is the sort of product that is so different that it has to be seen in action to be believed by those of us who consider skepticism an asset.