Aruba Networks today announced a new Aruba Central cloud-based management service for Wi-Fi networks that could be valuable to companies with branch operations, schools and mid-sized networks where IT support is scarce.
Aruba still sells Wi-Fi access points but now is offering Aruba Central cloud management of local Wi-Fi zones, for which it charges $140 per AP annually.
The company also announced the new Aruba Instant 155 AP, a desktop model starting at $895 and available now and the Instant 225 AP for $1.295, available sometime later this month.
A new 3.3 version of the Instant OS is also available, and a new S1500 mobility access switch with 12 to 48 ports starting at $1,495 will ship in late 2013.
Cloud-based management of Wi-Fi is in its early stages and today constitutes about 5% of a $4 billion annual Wi-Fi market, Aruba said, citing findings by Dell'Oro Group. Aruba said it faces competition from Aerohive and Meraki, which Cisco purchased for $1.2 billion last November.
Cloud-based management of APs is ideally suited for centralizing management of branch offices or schools that don't have their own IT staff.
"We have one interface for multiple sites, for those wanting to manage from a central platform," said Syliva Hooks, Aruba's director of product marketing. "There's remote monitoring and troubleshooting. We do alerting and reports, all in wizard-based formats, and you can group all the APs from location. We're trying to offer sophisticated functions, but presented so a generalist could use them."
Aruba relies on multiple cloud providers and multiple data centers to support Aruba Central, Hooks said.
The two new APs provide 450 Mbps throughput in 802.11n for the 155 AP and 1.3 Gbps for the 220 AP, Aruba said. Each AP in a Wi-Fi cluster running the Instant OS can assume controller functions with intelligence built in. The first AP installed in a cluster can select itself as the master controller of the other APs and if it somehow fails, the next most senior AP selects itself as the master.
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