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Telecom On The Go

Aruba upgrades its wireless access points to improve mobility and security for workers in remote locations

Aruba Networks Inc., fresh off of a big win by displacing Cisco Systems as a supplier of wireless LANs to Microsoft, last week introduced hardware and software designed to improve mobility, security, and convergence for workers in remote locations.

One of Aruba's new access points, the AP-41, priced at $195, establishes a connection between a remote location and the company network and voice-over-IP services. The AP-65, which is priced at $495 and is pocket-sized for portability, creates a secure wireless hot-spot.

Both access points only require remote users to plug into an Internet connection. Once 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 also has 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.

Aruba's AP-41 access point establishes a connection between a remote location and a company network.

Aruba's AP-41 access point establishes a connection between a remote location and a company network.

The products are part of Aruba's new "mobile edge" architecture, which 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," Aruba co-founder Keerti Melkote says.

Security, uninterrupted communication across different types of networks, whether wireless or wired, and network convergence are on the top of the list for many IT organizations. One of the services that can be layered on top of Aruba's architecture is VoIP. SpectraLink's line of voice-over-WLAN handsets and Vocera's line of voice communications products have been tested for interoperability. That means users can be reached at their desk phone number no matter where they roam.

Aruba's Mobile Edge addresses an important issue --the convergence of wide and local area networks into a uniform IP framework, which means businesses no longer have to think of networks inside the building and outside the building as different, Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney says.

Other vendors provide roaming between WANs and LANs, or offer a similar architecture for overlay services. But Aruba is different because it combines VPNs and local area security, and also consolidates communications into one system. "Users get a single sign-on for WANs, LANs, [and the Net]," he says, "which reduces maintenance costs for users and the authentication systems that they have to manage."

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