Aruba Launches Virtual Branch Offices

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Remote networking made easy, says the wireless specialist

Wireless network vendor Aruba Networks has launched a set of plug-and-go complete network products for branch offices, which take settings from the central office office… and even include a wired-only version, with no wireless.
The virtual branch network (VBN) products include new software for Arbua controllers in the data centre, and new remote access points and branch boxes, which start from £95 RAP-2WG designed for up to five users.

Branch offices often have remote access or VPN boxes, and even separate firewalls, but it is more efficient to store all the settings for this equipment centrally, with a “virtual” branch held at the central site, explained Roger Hockaday, director of marketing for Aruba in EMEA – especially as more and more applications are centralised.

“Wireless in the branch office is a big market place,” said Hockaday. “People have issues cabling up small offices.” Unlike previous Aruba products, aimed at the wireless community, this one is aimed at the remote access community, which is a $6 billion market, he said.

Users need to plug a device in and then have exactly the same environment as they would have in any other company office, with support for local printers and devices, he said, using a “thin” device that needs no local support or maintenance.

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The next product up from the RAP-2WG is the £400-£600 RAP-5WN, which has optional 802.11n wireless, five Ethernet ports and 3G backup to the central office. It supports up to 50 users on wired and wireless networks, and will include the ability to mesh with other APs later this year.

For offices with more printers, and networked storage, there are the 620 and 650 series controllers, starting at £1400. The 650 series, costing £2000 to £2700 contains four USB ports, and a full wireless intrusion protection system, said Hockaday.

“This makes wide area networking a commodity,” said Hockaday. “We pay a lot of money for LAN extensions – and this provides Layer 2 extensions to all the sites of an organisation.” The boxes also provide guest networks, and support VoIP.

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