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10/24/2005
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Aruba Unveils Wireless Access Products

The new access points give mobile and home workers a more secure way to connect to the Internet and office systems.

Aruba Networks Inc. is rolling out new wireless LAN access points designed for use in remote locations like home offices and hotel rooms.

Aruba, most recently in the headlines for winning over Cisco Systems customer Microsoft for a wireless LAN deployment, on Monday introduced new hardware and software that aims to improve mobility, security, and convergence. The access points, AP-41 and AP-65, are designed to give traveling workers access to the Internet and the office. The AP-41, which costs $195, establishes a connection between a remote location and the company network and VoIP services. The AP-65, which costs $495 and is pocket-size for portability, creates a secure wireless hot-spot. The access points "go where the user goes and creates a personal network for the user," says Aruba's co-founder Keerti Melkote.

Both APs require remote users to plug into an Internet connection to get access. Once the access points are plugged in, they automatically build a secure IPSec tunnel to Aruba's remote mobility controllers in the corporate data center. The access points download policies and configurations from the controllers to make sure that wireless connections are secure. Remote workers that can't plug into a wired connection can use Aruba's Mobile Edge VPN client to access a public hot-spot.

Aruba has also updated its mobility software that secures site-to-site VPN connections. It includes Aruba's operating system and a suite of mobile applications that run on all Aruba controllers. The new access points and the software will be available next month.

The products are part of Aruba's new "mobile edge" architecture that works across LANs, WANs, and the Internet. It's deployed as a service overlay, which means companies don't have to replace their exiting infrastructure or perform costly upgrades each time they want to add new applications. "The constant cycle of upgrades is a disruptive way of approaching mobility. Instead, layering services is much more effective," Melkote says.

Security, seamless communication across different types of networks, whether wireless or wired, and network convergence are on the top of the list for IT organizations. The migration toward VoIP hasn't been smooth and will take time, but vendors like Aruba are making it little easier for businesses to get there. For example, one of the services that can be layered on top of Aruba's architecture is VoIP. According to Aruba, SpectraLink's line of voice-over-WLAN handsets and Vocera's line of voice communications products have been tested for interoperability. If deployed successfully, users can be reached on their desk phones no matter where they are.

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