Wi-Fi arrays are a great solution in venues where a lot of capacity is needed in a given location. The alternative, using a number of distinct APs in close proximity, can represent a significant logistical and installation challenge. The convenience of everything in one box is undeniable.
But arrays usually cannot address the need for fill-in access points in difficult-to-reach (from a radio sense) areas, and would be overkill in many telework, branch, and small-business settings. So it's very interesting to see the recent announcement of the XR-520 AP from array leader Xirrus. The 520 is a dual-radio, 2x2 (300 Mbps) AP, with one radio fixed at 5 GHz. and the other independently programmable to the 2.4 or 5 GHz. bands. A wide range of features is included, from IDS/IPS and spectral sensing to support for BYOD and application policy. And this AP, along with the rest of Xirrus' line, can be managed from the cloud. While I'd be hard-pressed to come up with any big shortcomings here, 3x3 (450 Mbps) would be nice.
Perhaps most importantly, with this announcement Xirrus becomes a full-fledged enterprise WLAN systems provider. Can't wait to try this one out...
Mathias is a principal at Farpoint Group, a wireless advisory firm in Ashland, Mass.