WLAN provider Aruba Networks announced the AirWave 7, the next release of its operations solution for the enterprise that integrates wireless networks, wired infrastructure and client devices from one interface. Aruba said the move comes as mobile-enterprise users connect to networks from a large number of locations via a variety of devices such as smartphones and laptops.

"Our feedback from customers has been that they are happy with the level of visibility into [wireless] but they don't have the same level of visibility in their wired world," Bryan Wargo, general manager for Aruba's AirWave division, said in an interview.

Historically, Aruba's Airwave software solution, which essentially is hardware agnostic, has only provided visibility into an entity's Wi-Fi network. The addition of mobile-device and wired network-monitoring capabilities means a reduction in cost and complexity of the entire network, Wargo said. Indeed, the number of wireless and mobile devices within the enterprise is surging. Devices range from Windows-based laptops and smartphones to remote-control devices and wireless printers.

Moreover, many enterprise workers are bringing their own devices into the workplace and using them for work purposes. The software, for instance, can tell how many iPhones (which have Wi-Fi connectivity) are using the network.

"If a problem interferes with one of our mission-critical applications, our users don't care whether the cause is the device's firmware, the wireless AP's signal or a down switch — they just want it fixed," Greg Catalano, senior network engineer with Boise Inc., said in a statement.

Wargo said most of its competitors focus on the network configuration surrounding the installation of Wi-Fi networks. "We found out that the greatest expense is ongoing operation. We are offering a common information source but allow for unique access. The customer can use their own user interfaces and work-flow processes for various departments," he said.

In the long run, Wargo said the solution will help executives make more informed decisions when it comes to network planning. They will have the hard data to justify whether to rip out their landline systems and replace them with 802.11n networks, for instance.

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