Brocade has added wireless LAN infrastructure equipment from OEM partner Aruba Networks to its equipment rental program.
Brocade introduced the Brocade Network Subscription program in 2011 for all of its IP and Ethernet gear. Enterprises can rent Brocade routers and switches on a month-to-month basis with full support and no long-term commitment. Now, that subscription approach extends to Aruba gear, which customers can rent through Brocade partners. Partners will determine the rental rates based on the credit ratings of customers, said Lisa Paquette Nelson, senior director for Brocade Capital Solutions.
"It makes sense to include wireless [in this subscription model]," said Andre Kindness, principal analyst with Forrester Research. "Wireless makes even more sense because of the amount of time between 802.11ac Wave 1 and Wave 2 access points."
Many companies try to sweat their network investments for five to seven years before replacing them, Kindness said. The relatively short gap between the first and second generation of 802.11ac access points presents a network manager with a tough decision: invest in the technology now or wait for Wave 2. Brocade's rental approach with Aruba makes it easier to swap out for new technology as it hits the market.
Of course, it's not as simple as that. Few network managers will do a one-to-one swap of access points from one generation to the next. Some Wi-Fi redesign will be needed, Kindness said. Still, the flexibility is there.
Is anyone renting gear from Brocade?
Brocade's Nelson declined to say how many customers actually rent from the Brocade Network Subscription program. "We're having tremendous success across the K-12 and university space and other budget-constrained verticals that have increasing demands on their network," she said.
A pay-as-you-go approach to networking is also appealing to early adopters of new technology, she said.
Renting network gear does require a change to an IT organization's procurement process, which may inhibit some companies from trying the program.
"Even though the cloud concept of pay-per-use has been around for a while, networking is stuck in the traditional procurement approach," Kindness said. "Typically [networking pros] will buy equipment and set up warranty agreements, and they pay one lump sum." Renting gear requires a different budgeting approach, and it can affect a company's accounting practices.
Depending on how long a company rents gear from Brocade, the subscription program can prove to be more expensive, Kindness added. "But it has immediate benefits, given the amount of change happening in networking over the last 12 months and the next 12 months," he said.