Aruba’s nervous breakdown

It’s come to our attention that Aruba Networks, the wireless LAN company that recently filed for an IPO, is terrified by the new architecture of the Trapeze wireless LAN system. To summarize the issues, Trapeze and Aruba both build enterprise-class wireless switches, consisting in both cases of wireless Access Points and back-end Ethernet switches. Both systems present a control point on the Ethernet side, and both switch traffic between the wire and the air.

But the new Trapeze architecture has a wrinkle that makes it much faster, more resilient, and more scalable than the Aruba system: local switching. In the Aruba system, all traffic originating on the air has to go back to a Big Ethernet switch before it can be decrypted and delivered to its final destination. But the Trapeze system, with local switching enabled, makes forwarding decisions at the edge of the wired network, not in a big switch that can become a traffic bottleneck.

Hence the Trapeze system can handle larger numbers of users with lower latency with no loss of management flexibility: you manage it as if it were a Big Fat Switch system, and it right-sizes its forwarding functions according to traffic needs, not the blinders of a mediocre group of system architects.

This has Aruba running scared, so they’re in full FUD mode as the e-mail below indicates. I’ve interspersed the Aruba message with a fisking from Trapeze.


From: Alan Emory [mailto:[email protected]]
Subject: Trapeze Takes A Step Back – Selling Fat APs

We need to start with the subject of the message. Trapeze actually has taken a big step forward by combining the best of fat and thin APs in a single comprehensive solution. Aruba and Cisco force you to make a choice…one size fits all. Only Trapeze allows you to use the right tool for the right environment. It is very important to note that the customer can run the entire Trapeze system in a completely thin, centralized way if they so choose. Smart Mobile provides more flexibility in case that isn’t the right answer for your environment. Aruba? If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
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Accel getting serious?

This little move probably won’t garner a lot of attention, but I think it’s interesting:

Silicon Valley venture firm Accel Partners has hired mobile software expert Richard Wong as a partner, the latest sign of where investors think the action will be.

Wong spent six years at OpenWave, which developed early mobile browsers (WAP), and where Wong worked with mobile companies like Sorrent, Jamdat, Infospace and Motricity in their earliest stages and saw them grow quickly. He oversaw OpenWave’s marketing efforts, and more recently was head of its product division. (Here is his bio.)

Mobile wireless is a much more interesting world than the old-time Internet, and it’s not constrained by nutty interest groups peddling loony regulatory myths. It’s smart of Accel to get serious about it.