Alcatel is showing the first result of its collaboration with its new partner, Aruba, by releasing the second generation of its OmniAccess WLAN switch (the partnership with Aruba was forged after Cisco acquired Airespace). The new product also gives evidence for Alcatel's recongition that convergence is the name of the game. Alcatel's Brian Witt told wi-fiplanet that in today's enterprise there is no longer a distinction between wired and unwired gear. "The user view is about mobility," he says. "It's about how to connect, wireless or wired, for data, voice, and collaboration that converges data and voice."
The intelligence of the centralized WLAN will reside in the switch, which will handle data encryption and assign security policy and access rights to users. The OmniAccess equipment will be tracking users and keep them connected as they move about within the network coverage area. The new family will feature three stackable OmniAccess products, two with eight ports (one supporting 4 APs, the other supporting 16 APs), and a 24-port unit which can handle up to 48 APs. A four-slot modular controller used in large networks will be able to control and monitor up to 512 APs.
The lowest-end model starts at approximately $2,600. Alcatel is, in effect, selling the Aruba line with the enhanced capacity to manage more APs (in fact, 10 times more APs than the Airespace equipment Alcatel used to sell). The comapny also offers the full range of APs. Single radio software is configurable for either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. Single radio units are priced at $300, and dual-radio APs, for simultaneous operation in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, are priced at $700. Alcatel will keep supporting existing customers with first-generation Airespace equipment. The support contract with Airespace is for five years, but Witt belives most customers will migrate to the second-generation switch long befofe that.