Meru, Aruba top researcher's 802.11n rankings

* ABI conducts multidimensional evaluation of 802.11n vendors

A recent, multidimensional evaluation of 802.11n wireless LAN vendors compiled by ABI Research reflects the complexity facing IT departments as they conduct their own assessments of enterprise-class 802.11n prospects. In what was more or less a photo finish, Meru Networks edged out its fierce rival, Aruba Networks, as the leading vendor in ABI's latest Vendor Matrix, released last week. Motorola took the No. 3 spot.

Note that while these vendors received the highest overall rankings, criteria were weighted, and other companies excelled in certain areas in their own right. So, depending on what’s important to you, you might wish to weigh certain factors differently and, thus, come up with the same or different “winners.”

For example, if you anticipate bar-coded data only traversing your WLAN and never running voice or video over it, the high points Meru earned for its “no-handoff” virtual cell architecture and QoS might not carry the weight for you that they did for the general assessment.

Among the criteria used by Stan Schatt, ABI vice president and networking research director, were weighted ratings of several “implementation factors” that ranged from channel partner infrastructure, number and size of existing commercial deployments, value for price, product range, migration strategy from earlier 802.11 networks, power-over-Ethernet support and planning tools.

Also critiqued were “innovation factors” that covered antenna technology and architectural features such as QoS, high-availability design, scalability. The evaluation was based on detailed surveys and conversations with each of 13 vendors and did not include performance testing, Schatt said.

In attempting to create a true apples-to-apples assessment of the 802.11n market as it stands today, ABI examined a wide range of variables. It also normalized pricing. For example, it accounted for the fact that some 802.11n access points (AP) might seem the least expensive, but become more costly if you want to add features that come bundled into competitors’ higher-priced APs.

You can view the ABI 802.11n Vendor Matrix here (free registration is required), but I’ll also provide some vendor-by-vendor replay in the next newsletter.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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