Trapeze Networks was the latest WLAN infrastructure vendor, following the competition at Meru Networks and Colubris Networks (to name a couple), to announce its plans for an 802.11n access point to come later this year.
Analysts at Dell’Oro Group say that in the last year, products based on the early draft of 802.11n have garnered revenue north of $150 million. That’s been held up only by high prices and lack of interoperability certification, both of which will change this year. Add to that the plans by the enterprise vendors to join the fray, and 11n is certainly on the rise.
David Cohen, director of product marketing for Trapeze, says the areas of consideration when going to 11n are performance, impact on the existing infrastructure of the increased traffic, and power. “With 11n, the access points and the MIMO and all, they just simply require higher power,” he says. “Power over Ethernet, based on 802.3af, is in virtually all APs, but that’s not enough Watts for a lot of new 11n APs. Do you upgrade them all?”
Trapeze’s answer is the Mobility Point 432 (model MP-432). It supports dual-band 802.11n (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands) with 300 Mbps performance in each band. “It’ll do full MIMO in each band for an aggregate total of 600 Mbps,” says Cohen (using 3×3 MIMO antennas). For the wired connection to the MP, it’s got a Gigabit Ethernet uplink — two of them, in fact.
That’s because the MP-432 will support the current 802.3af PoE, which limits the power the unit can use. “Our hardware engineers did a clever board design to get a significant subset of 11n functionality with just one 802.3af injector present,” says Cohen. “It enables a smooth migration.” But the second GigE port means you can plug in a second PoE line to provide double the power and thus get full 11n functions.
It’s also ready for the higher-power 802.3at specification called Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+) by some. That’s three power options on the one AP. The new MP-432s even use the same mounting brackets as previous Mobility Points from Trapeze — they have the same “smoke detector” shape.
The company’s Smart Mobile switching remains in play, meaning not all the traffic on the network has to go back to the controller, speeding up processes. “This is a big part of what sets us apart,” says Cohen, adding that their decentralized approach makes Trapeze ready for 11n.
Cohen says the AP will go out for certification of interoperability by the Wi-Fi Alliance as soon as testing starts; that should be sometime in June. The MP-432 should sell for around $1,500 starting later this year.
Cisco is indeed pretty mum on its own 11n plans, but Aruba has issued a white paper on the subject of 11n’s impact called “Designed for Speed: Network Infrastructure in an 802.11n World.” It handed it out at Interop. The paper should be on Aruba’s site after the show closes.
Mike Tennefoss, Aruba’s vice president of marketing, told Wi-Fi Planet, “Many customers don’t need 11n. Their networks today run on fumes. It might be hot new technology, but they don’t need it. If you don’t need it, wait until standardized products are out before you deploy.”
“Of course, we’ll support 11n access points,” says Tennefoss, “and we’re coming out with them later in the year… we wouldn’t put out the white paper if we didn’t plan the AP.”
He says even the most basic Aruba controller will support 11n, and he doesn’t see any issue with the use of controllers or splitting of the data and control planes of the network, referring to “issues” brought up recently by Meru and new startup Aerohive. The latter eschews controllers all together. “Our controller maintains security on the network,” says Tennefoss. “On that front, Aerohive is quiet.”
Aerohive’s brief time in the public eye, however, has certainly got it attention. The no-controller company wants to take on industry leader Cisco head-to-head: it has a trade-in program for companies dumping their Cisco Aironet APs to get 50% off the list price of Aerohive’s HiveAP 20 APs. It also got a Best of Interop award for “Best Startup.”