Monday, April 4, 2016

Aruba AP 330: Resilience and RF Performance in the Access Layer

It's an interesting time in the industry.  Each AP manufacturer is trying to differentiate against their competitors.  We're seeing speeds, feeds and radios popping up all over the place.  I recently had a chance to look at the new Aruba a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company 330 series AP at Atmosphere 2016 in Las Vegas.

The keynotes talked about how our reliance on wireless are increasing, and how it's becoming a more critical part of our network infrastructure.  I see the 330 series AP announced as a big part of Aruba's strategy moving forward.

Instead of giving a big detailed spec sheet for the AP, I'm going to highlight the things I found interesting.

Dual polarized antennas on the 5GHz Radio:
This is a new feature for Aruba, for their 5GHz radio they offer both a horizontal and vertical polarized antennas.  This gives the AP the ability to pick the best polarization for a given client.  How this is implemented at launch is yet to be determined, but this gives the AP the ability to deal with alternate polarizations of clients.  Resulting in better RF signal to and from clients. 

SmartRate port:
This AP has a single 100/1000/2.5G port.  It's backed up by a 100/1000 port.  You can debate all you want about whether you "need" more than a gigabit of throughput, but the fact that it's here and it is decreasing the serialization delay of traffic is good news.  As far as I'm aware, there is only one other announced AP offering this feature.

Hitless POE Failover:
I believe that this is a first for the wireless industry.  Aruba has been able to utilize PoE on both of it's ports for a number of years, but this is the first time that the AP hasn't required a reboot when failing from one PoE port to another.  This is a great advantageous for keeping the wireless network active, even when you lose a single switch in a closet.  I'm not sure what this will do to our POE budgets on switches, but for those who are trying to build a highly available wireless network, this is the new standard.

Oh my MU-MIMO:
The AP 330 is a beast when it comes to MU-MIMO.  At 4x4:4:4:3, it's the first AP I've seen come to market with up to 4 MU streams (3 clients per group).  This means it can handle 2x 2SS-MU clients at a time.  Combined with the dual polarized 5GHz antennas, my prediction is that the 330 will be the AP to beat from an MU-MIMO perspective.

I'm impressed with Aruba's strategy towards their new flagship AP, upping the game when it comes to hardware design.    Looking at their announcements around Aruba OS 8.0 with ISSU and clustering, I'm positive that this investment on uptime and resiliency is going to pay off for the AP 330.

Disclaimer: Aruba was kind enough to pay for my admission to Atmosphere 2016.  However these opinions are mine and mine alone.