Aruba Networks is known more for its enterprise and campus clients - it runs the wireless networks for the US Air Force and Microsoft, as well as for local sites such as the Canberra Institute of Technology and Australian National University.
But thanks to the acquisition of AirWave last year, Aruba is now branching into a third product line - virtual branch networking.
The idea behind it, says Greg Murphy, is to take advantage of the fact that applications are becoming more centralised in the datacenter at the same time as the workplace is becoming more distributed, with branch offices and teleworkers becoming far more common.
Companies have relied on VPN to bring their remote workers into the office fold, but VPN can be slow, and doesn't allow full voice communications, local storage and local printing or on branch offices that replicate the corporate network, but bring with them increased maintenance costs as IT staff need to perform updates at each site.
Aruba's Virtual Branch Networking combines the best aspects of both solutions.
The RAP-2, for example, which is the smallest device in the range, can be sent out to a user who then simply enters an IP address to connect. The RAP-2 handles the provision and configures the devices to existing corporate policies. This eliminates the need for ongoing maintenance.
It essentially turns the RAP-2 into another managed Ethernet port on the network, but extends it to a remote location.
|The RAP-2 is the size of a deck of cards, and only $160
"It's taking the Ethernet ports from under your desk to your home," said Murphy.
There's an extra Ethernet port on the RAP-2 which can be used to connect a printer, VOIP phone, or other devices.
The biggest advantage of the RAP-2 over other solutions is the cost: at just $160 per RAP-2, the device works out cheaper than many DSL modems.
Given the improved speed and the ability to manage the device as easily as managing a local network port, it's a no-brainer for many small businesses that need their workers in remote locations.
Because the RAP-2 uses user-centric access, businesses can also control exactly how much access a gadget gets through the device. A laptop may get full access, whereas an iPhone may only be able to access email.
The RAP-2 contains a whitelist of MAC addresses that it then pushes out corporate policies to, so that control is fine-tuned and secure. And because no policies are retained in the device, it's as low-cost to manage as an existing managed port in your corporate network.
For many small businesses, the RAP-2 represents a low-maintenance, low-cost solution that will remove IT support as a stumbling block to extending their network and allow remote access for their workers for the first time.