Enterprise WLANs 2014: A Few More Announcements

As I noted in my last post, announcements around 802.11ac continue at a furious pace, with significant advances and meaningful differentiation as well.

Who was it that said that anything in print is out of date? I think such may be true for anything published on the Web as well - as I received notice of two more announcements just after I posted my note on this subject last Friday.

Aerohive today announced their AP230, which is remarkable in two dimensions. First, at a list price of US$799, it is the lowest-priced enterprise-grade 3x3 802.11ac AP on the market today. And the feature set here is essentially identical to the higher-priced AP370, with the exception that only one of the two Ethernet ports on the 230 supports PoE. So, subtracting a little bit of redundancy, we regardless eliminate all doubt that (a) this will be Aerohive's mainstream .11ac AP for the foreseeable future, and (b) that .11n is no longer a good idea going forward. Aerohive continues to note, of course, that no controllers are required (or even available) in their architecture and product line. I'm still at a loss as to how to cost-effectively compare controller-based and controllerless (technically, the two options are centralized and distributed control) analytically, but the fact that there are happy customers for both options provides us at the very least with an existence proof that both are valid. I hope to pursue this topic in more detail later in the year.

Extreme last week announced their IdentiFi 3800 series 802.11ac access points, the first model of which, the AP3825, is now available. Extreme still has some work to do in integrating the WLAN product lines of Enterasys and the previous Extreme, but they are building up quite an arsenal of capabilities, including the very exciting Purview analytics tool.

Will we see a price war as a result of Aerohive's aggressive pricing of the 230? I don't think so; it's always about cost-to-solution, after all, and the very competitive nature of the marketplace makes the pricing of individual elements less important in defining that solution. But even considering that prices always fall as technology matures within each generation, $799 is pretty amazing. And with Extreme, note again that .11ac is the jacks-or-better in the WLAN game today. It really is all about the solution and value-add well above and beyond the IEEE standard.

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