Wednesday, October 19, 2016

HPE / Aruba Networks drops price on 802.11ac with new products

Aruba Networks, an HPE company, is looking to grow their footprint in enterprise WiFi in 2017 and warm the hearts of IT professionals. How? Competitive pricing. That's how.

Aruba's new AP-207, AP-304/305
We'll start with the new AP-207, a 2x2 dual-band 802.11ac Wave 1 access point that MSRPs for $395. Compare this to the AP-205, Aruba's 2x2 ac AP of yesteryear retailing for $695. That comes out to about a 44% discount for the same level of hardware. While the AP-205 does offer a flavor with external antennas (AP-204), if internal antennas will work for your deployment, there is no longer a reason to look at AP-205's.

The AP-207 also features an integrated low-energy bluetooth (BLE) radio, so it's ready to participate with location service beacon solutions like Meridian. The AP-205, in contrast, is capable of rocking a dedicated radio for spectrum analysis. Personally, I'd rather pay $300 less for a BLE-ready access point.

Aruba didn't stop with the AP-207's though. They have also announced a new 802.11ac Wave 2 model that's easier on IT budgets. The AP-304/305 is a 3x3 Wave 2 unit that weighs in at a relatively gentle $695 MSRP. These APs offer Multi-user MIMO, 80 MHz channel widths and integrated BLE.

While you might notice the AP-304/305's are lacking the 160 MHz channel sizes normally afforded by the Wave 2 standard, it's also worth noting that there are very few viable applications for channel widths of that size. Even 80 MHz is ill-advised for most deployments. This is because WiFi demands are shifting more and more toward supporting larger and larger densities of connecting devices, and the leading experts in the industry generally agree that the best way to handle that density is in opening up as many 20 MHz channels as you can. The above graphic shows how a single 160 MHz channel uses the same spectrum as up to eight 20 MHz channels. Those extra channels are like extra lanes on the highway for multiple clients to connect on. When it comes to the most practical use-cases, the AP-304/305 is a great option for serving high-density indoors.

Currently, only campus versions of these new APs are available - meaning you'll have to pick up a separate virtual controller or hardware appliance to use them. They also only run on AOS 6.5. However, Aruba plans to have Instant flavors (autonomous APs that don't require a controller) available in the first quarter of 2017 with compatibility for AOS 8.0.

We're also crossing our fingers for the 5-4-3 "WiFi Without Worries" Aruba promotion to be extended past its current Oct. 31 expiration date. This special promotion for customers new to Aruba grants two free Instant access points of the same or lesser value model when you purchase three (literally, five for the price of three). It can also be tapped twice in the same order for up to four free APs. If that promo is extended into 2017 when the Instant AP-207's become available, IT managers who have shied away from Aruba in the past due to sticker shock will do well to take another look.

CopperWifi.com is a division of Copper Wireless LLC, authorized partners/resellers with HPE / Aruba Networks, Cisco Meraki, Fortinet / Meru Networks, as well as selling Ubiquiti Networks equipment. If you have any questions regarding an order, product offerings, network design, how cloud or enterprise networking works or just want to say hello, feel free to give us a call at 1-888-331-7490, or email us at sales@copperwifi.com.

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