Wireless LAN technology: A buyer's guide
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
Editor's note: This product overview on Aruba wireless access points is part of a series on buying wireless LAN technologies for the enterprise that compares cloud-controlled WLAN versus locally managed WLAN. We look at the buying criteria for cloud-managed WLAN products and the criteria for buying locally managed WLAN solutions. We also compare the top cloud-controlled wireless LAN vendors in the market and the leading vendors in the locally managed WLAN market.
The Aruba wireless access point (AP) family contains seven product lines. Aruba also offers wireless controllers, but this article will focus exclusively on access points.
Aruba wireless access point options
Aruba offers seven AP options to choose from: six indoor models and one outdoor. Many of the models have either an integrated antenna or the ability to be ordered with external antenna connectors. As long as Aruba APs have the ability to operate in instant mode, the same device can be used in either an on-premises or cloud-managed environment.
The 103 series is the most cost-effective Aruba wireless access point. It supports a dual-radio, two-stream 802.11n chipset that delivers up to 300 Mbps data rates. The 103 series utilizes four integrated antennas and does not offer an external antenna option. This AP works well in low-density areas where basic connectivity is required.
The 110 series is a step up from the 103 series. It uses an 802.11n radio but delivers up to 450 Mbps, thanks to the use of three steams operating at 150 Mbps each. The 110 series can be ordered with four integrated omnidirectional antennas or with connectors to add an external antenna. These APs could be used in higher-density areas where 802.11ac protocols are not required.
The 200 series is Aruba's lowest cost 802.11ac Wave-1 AP. It can deliver up to 867 Mbps data rates using two spatial streams. The 200 series can be ordered with four integrated omnidirectional antennas or with connectors to add an external antenna. It is well-suited for low-density areas where 802.11ac end devices would be connecting.
The 210 series is a three-stream, 802.11ac AP that delivers data rates up to 1.3 Gbps. It can be ordered with six integrated omnidirectional antennas or with external antenna connection capabilities. This is a great choice for areas where user density is high and additional throughput is needed.
The 220 series is identical to the 210 series in terms of wireless chips and antenna options, but it offers higher performance and dual 10/100/1000BASE-T uplink ports that can be aggregated to get the full performance out of the wireless network. This series also includes a ruggedized option for locations like manufacturing plants or warehouses that are not climate-controlled. This option is not durable enough for outdoor use, however, and should be deployed indoors only.
The 320 series is the latest Aruba wireless access point series, offering 802.11ac Wave 2 performance with four spatial streams, which delivers up to 1.733 Gbps wireless data rate performance. The 320 comes in two antenna options; either eight internal omnidirectional antennas or four dual-band RP-SMA antenna connectors to allow for connection using an external antenna. It also includes two 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet ports for aggregation to uplink switches. These APs are designed for deployments that demand bleeding-edge hardware and ultimate performance.
Cloud-controlled WLANsThis series focuses on "cloud-controlled" wireless LANs, which are configured and managed entirely from the cloud, and only the access points remain on location. By contrast, "cloud-managed" WLANs are managed partly from the cloud and partly through on-site equipment.
The 270 series boasts the same wireless chipset as the 220 indoor series APs. It even includes the dual 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet uplink ports. The key difference is that the 270 series is housed in a weatherproof case that is more resistant to hot and cold temperature changes. The 270 also comes in two options, either with integrated antennas or with connectors to add an external antenna.
Users who purchase an on-premises solution will also need to purchase support contracts for their controllers and APs in order to update firmware or perform troubleshooting and hardware replacement. All contracts for cloud-controlled solutions include these support features. Like the other cloud-managed vendors, the only option you have to choose is the length of the initial license agreement. A one-year license agreement costs $140, a three-year agreement costs $290, and a five-year agreement costs $425.
Pricing for Aruba wireless access points starts at $395 for the 103 series, $895 for the 110 series, $695 for the 200 series, $995 for the 210 series, and $1,295 for the 220 series. The 320 series costs about $1,395 and the 270 series starts at $1,595.
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