802.11n Blue Ribbon Winners

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In putting together an evaluation of 802.11n vendor strengths and weaknesses, ABI Research, which issued its 802.11n Vendor Matrix last week, has created a template you can use as a cheat sheet for your own assessments.

ABI's own general evaluation ranked archrivals Meru Networks and Aruba Networks at the top, overall, with Motorola next in line. Let's look under the covers at these and other Blue Ribbon grabbers, with some commentary provided by Stan Schatt, ABI vice president and networking research director, who reviewed the results with me last week:

Most Early Commercial Deployments and Best Channel Management: Meru and Aruba

"The 802.11n enterprise market is a new market, and the major verticals affected are higher education and healthcare," Schatt said. So ABI looked at the number of actual deployments vendors had in these markets and put quite a bit of emphasis on that factor. "This is where Meru and Aruba were buoyed" (in addition to their unique and flexible architectures) and where some of the newer companies got left in the dust, said Schatt.

He noted that Cisco, which ranked sixth overall, has announced a number of 802.11n deployments, yet the company lost points because most are still in the implementation phase. Cisco received very high marks on overall channel management across multiple vertical markets, however.

Most Innovative: Motorola

Motorola ranked first here because of its 11n APs' ability to function in dependent or independent mode, its antenna technology, video-oriented QoS, built-in mesh capabilities and migration strategy.

Resiliency: Trapeze and Aerohive

"Some vendors are preaching the 'all-wireless' enterprise," said Schatt. "Resilience is an important part of that," he said, for which he awarded Trapeze Networks (to be acquired by Belden) top honors, thanks to its cluster-controller high-availability design. Startup Aerohive, which uses a distributed AP and mesh communications architecture, scored a very close second to Trapeze in resiliency, says Schatt, but ultimately ranked near the bottom of the list for a comparatively low number of deployments to date.

Value Proposition: Colubris

"What they offer for the price of their 11n access point [$995] is the most compelling," says Schatt. "But they only offer one model of AP, and their management platform is not in the same class as [Trapeze's] Ringmaster."

The Dark Horse: Extricom

"They have a very compelling value proposition," says Schatt of the startup, which has an architecture similar to Meru's to avoid handoffs and dropped sessions. He deducted points for lack of channel deployments, "but they are strong in higher education outside the U.S. and in manufacturing. They might do some damage in those markets."

For the full ABI 802.11n Vendor Matrix, go here (free registration is required).

This story, "802.11n Blue Ribbon Winners " was originally published by Network World.

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