Xirrus has unveiled its latest offering today (2 July 2014) to enable customers to migrate easily from 802.11ac Wave 1 Wi-Fi deployments to Wave 2 equipment, which is due to ship next year.
Xirrus XR arrays (pictured above) provide a modular upgrade path to future wireless standards, as they come to market, to ensure investment protection, as well as unique functionality that maximises the efficiency and performance of the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.
By the end of 2014, it is expected that nearly half of all new Wi-Fi devices being shipped will support the new 802.11ac standard. Planning the migration to 11ac can be a daunting and expensive proposition for many organisations.
Compounding this challenge is the fact that 802.11ac Wi-Fi is being released in multiple waves – Wave 1 802.11ac began shipping in 2013 with >1Gbps speeds and Wave 2 products will begin shipping by 2015 with >3Gbps speeds.
In Xirrus’ view, the fast moving technology roadmap of Wi-Fi can make it difficult for CIOs and IT departments to determine when to transition their wireless networks.
Speaking to Wireless, Bruce Miller, VP of product marketing at Xirrus, said: “The challenge is that the technology is moving very quickly and 802.11ac Wave 2 is capturing a lot of attention, especially the MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple in, multiple out) feature, which enables communication with more people at the same.
“Wi-Fi is a shared medium, but MU-MIMO provides four simultaneous streams, so four people can talk at once. That increases the efficiency and performance providing net speeds of 3.5Gps – nearly tripling Wave 1 speeds.
“Like 802.11n, which had two waves as sell, this makes it challenging for buyers – do they wait or invest now? Xirrus wants to help provide a strategy that makes that decision easier,” said Miller.
“Our modular arrays can house up to 16 radios with directional antennas. You can buy an array now full or with open radio slots ready to accept modules at a later point in time. That way you can add capacity as well as upgrade to the latest technology, but you are not throwing anything way or having to replace arrays,” said Miller.
‘This provides a pre-purchase upgrade path to Wave 2 technology,” he continued. “Customers can order modules today and get them when we ship them in 2015. It gives people the choice to wait if they want to. If you are at the upgrade point in your purchasing cycle, but know there is something new on horizon, you could choose to live with what you have for longer, but that can mean you are not satisfying your users. So, our solution provides a simpler option for migration.”
Miller pointed out that Xirrus has followed a similar strategy before with the transition from 802.11a/b/g to 11n and from 11n to 11ac Wave 1. “It has worked well for us, as we’ve had thousands of pre-orders in the past.”
He also noted that even though multi-gigabit speeds will become available, Wi-Fi is still a shared medium, so if fast devices are sharing bandwidth with slower devices that can slow them down. However, Xirrus technology can separate out the fast 11ac devices from 11n and other older devices using our Xirrus ACExpress solution.”
“The trick is to get them to all work together at the same time at maximum efficiency,” said Miller. “The other key thing is that you can do 11ac across the entire array, or we can programme our radios so they are all 11n or 11ac or whatever mixture. Customers will be migrating devices over time with some 11n devices still on 2.4GHz and 11ac ones on 5GHz, but they won’t have to swop out the radios.”
Xirrus offering available today:
• Wave 1 802.11ac wireless arrays supporting 2 to 16 radios. Xirrus Wave 1 arrays are available today.
• Wave 2 802.11ac upgradability through modular array interfaces. Individual or all radios in an array can be upgraded. Wave 2 modules are available for pre-order today and will ship in 2015.
• Integrated optimisation with Xirrus ACExpress, which unlocks the true potential of 11ac by segmenting Wi-Fi client types (802.11g, 11n, 11ac Wave 1/Wave 2, etc.) to maximise performance.
For enterprises, education institutions, hospitality venues and conference centres alike, consistently delivering a superior quality of experience (QoE) is critical to remain competitive. Increasing demand pushes these organisations to look to 802.11ac to advance their networks, but a rip-and-replace approach can be costly, especially with 802.11ac Wave 2 availability on the near-term horizon.
To help organisations make this transition, Xirrus offers its 802.11ac Wave 1 APs (access points) and arrays available today at the same price as 802.11n to make the decision simple. Looking to the future, customers can pre-purchase 802.11ac Wave 2 modules today, or later when they become available, to migrate their networks without replacing their investment in the host Array platform.
“We created a path to enable organisations to deploy a single wireless network platform with complete flexibility to transition technology at their own pace,” said Shane Buckley, CEO at Xirrus.
“Organisations can deploy an 802.11ac-compatible wireless network today, with no risk that they’ll miss out on Wave 2 or be locked into outdated technology during a five or more year investment lifecycle. Our customer-focused approach to 802.11ac migration contributed to our placement in the ‘Visionaries’ quadrant in the recently-released Gartner ‘Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure.’”