Juniper wires up WLAN deal with Aruba

Juniper Networks and Aruba Networks this week said they have agreed to offer converged wired and wireless networks combining their respective products.

For Juniper, the relationship means being able to sell into enterprises that have deployed Aruba WLAN gear. Aruba is the second leading provider of enterprise WLAN access points and switch/controllers behind Cisco, according to various market research data.

wireless access points

Aruba's WLAN products will be integrated with Juniper routers and switches.

Juniper’s own WLAN products, obtained from the 2010 acquisition of Belden’s Trapeze Networks unit, have been underwhelming in the market and Juniper does not rank among the top seven WLAN vendors, according to Dell’Oro Group. Indeed, rumors persist that Juniper may divest its own WLAN portfolio.

“Their WLAN business has not gone anywhere, it has not grown,” said IDC analyst Rohit Mehra. “This helps Juniper expand their addressable market for wired switching. If a customer prefers Aruba, Juniper will still be in the game.”

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Juniper will still support its WLAN products – WLA access points, WLC controllers, and RingMaster and SmartPass security and management software – and plans to continue to honor the current development road map for them, says Mike Marcellin, senior vice president of strategy and marketing for Juniper. Currently, they support the IEEE 802.11n standard, but vendors like Aruba announced higher speed 802.11ac products a year ago.

Marcellin says the Aruba joint development and marketing deal includes Aruba’s current generation 802.11n and newer generation 802.11ac gear.

For Aruba, the deal is another high-profile, brand name channel. The company has similar arrangements with Alcatel-Lucent and Brocade, among other vendors.

Under the Juniper/Aruba arrangement, the companies plan API-level integration of their respective switching, routing and WLAN products. The goal is to provide consistent management, visibility, and policy definition and enforcement of the converged wired/wireless infrastructure with contextual data on users, devices, applications and location available from Aruba’s products.

The integration is designed to offer enterprises the ability to optimize application performance, and enable mobility-centric security and policy. It will occur in three phases, according to this blog post from Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager of Juniper’s Campus and Data Center Business Unit:

* Phase 1 will integrate Aruba and Juniper network management applications, allowing customers to use a common set of tools to manage Juniper wired switches and Aruba WLAN equipment.

* Phase 2 will see the integration of policy orchestration, including the definition and deployment of network access rules across Juniper and Aruba networks. The company’s plan to employ a common policy language based on user, device, application and location for network-wide consistency.

* Phase 3 will enable the integration of wired and wireless data planes through a published interface on the Juniper EX series switches and MX series routers. This will enable the Aruba WLAN system to directly interface with Juniper switching platforms, optimizing the network data plane for wired/wireless convergence, Davidson states.

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