Later this year, Colubris Networks plans to deliver an access point in a new case design, complete with dual radios: one for legacy 802.11a/b/g clients, and another to handle the fast-approaching 802.11n revolution.
The new product, the Colubris MultiService Access Point 625 (MAP-625), “complements our controllers and management platform,” says Carl Blume, Colubris’ director of marketing. “It provides customers with a smooth migration path to 11n.”
By separating the legacy clients from the 11n clients, Colubris says it will have an “Always N” tech, with the 3×3 11n radio dedicated and never slowed down by connecting to older laptops. The 2.4 GHz side of the 11n radio — 11n can support both 2.4 and 5 GHz radio frequencies — will be limited to a 20 MHz channel, so it won’t cause any “bad neighbor interference” by doubling to 40 MHz, an option in 11n.
Also new with the MAP-600 family is the enclosure, which Colubris plans to use on additional products in the future. It has wing-like antennas that can be closed or opened to provide directional or omni-directional signals. They’ll mount on a wall or ceiling. The MAP-625 is based on an Atheros Wi-Fi chipset.
When asked about a recent announcement by startup Aerohive decrying the need for controllers in an enterprise WLAN, Pierre Trudeau, Colubris’ founder and CTO, points out that the company has done distributed APs for a while — he says Colubris has shipped Aerohive-type technology for a year now. “We do what they claim they’ll do — but we can scale,” he says.
Colubris says its architecture will not require a fork-lift upgrade for existing customers moving to 802.11n. Blume compares what Colubris is doing to Meru Networks’ 11n plans, calling Meru’s 3-Tier Traffic Distribution System (3TDS) that keeps data traffic and control traffic separate a “band-aid on architectural issues by creating distribution points.”
The MAP-625 is backward-compatible with all existing Colubris controllers, which Blume says is “great investment protection. Customers can install an AP that — even without 11n clients today — migrates them forward as the 11n clients come on board.” The units will ship in the fall — mostly likely after they’ve received certification for interoperability from the Wi-Fi Alliance on 11a/b/g/n — at a price of $999 per unit.
The 802.11n specification is currently in draft 2.0 from the IEEE, a draft deemed by most as sufficient to go ahead and start deploying. The Alliance will start testing it this summer — the first time it will be tested based on a draft and not a ratified standard.