Aruba Networks introduced a new line of products including an access point that can be mounted on the wall and plugged into any Ethernet port: The idea is to cut deployment costs but also encourage a denser deployment of APs.
"We went into large accounts and they said they wanted to put up large deployments but they couldn't even if we gave them the APs for free," said David Callisch, an Aruba Networks spokesman. Those enterprises complained that the cost and process of hiring workers that have to climb ladders to install access points in the ceiling was too cumbersome. They also said that they wanted good coverage but were so reluctant to hang enough APs because of how difficult the process is that it defeated the point of building a WLAN.
Based on such customer feedback, Aruba built APs that can be plugged directly into an Ethernet port. "It takes two minutes to install," Callisch said. The APs draw power over Ethernet and communicate with a centralized Aruba switch.
Networks built with the new APs will require two to three times as many APs as conventional WLANs. The additional APs will focus on a smaller coverage area, thus serving a smaller number of clients. The APs constantly communicate with the switch which in turn tunes the network for the best performance. "It's a model that looks like the Ethernet network," Callisch said. He said the architecture can also be ideal for location tracking applications.
Because the networks will require more APs, Aruba has also introduced a new pricing scheme. Customers pay $200 per AP per year. The cost includes service and support and Aruba will replace APs that fail as part of the yearly fee. "When you're putting them in the ceiling, you're trying to deploy sparsely because of the cost. Now you can put them wherever there's an open Ethernet port," he said.
Aruba also announced today a deal with Ortronics. Ortronics will build Aruba APs into Ethernet jacks. Companies that may be re-wiring buildings or builders of new construction can use the Ethernet jacks to hardwire the APs into the facility.