Round 2 - Xirrus Corrects Aruba Networks Competitive Claims

Xirrus Once Again Publicly Debunks Aruba's Baseless Lies Against Them

Jan 27, 2010, 11:47 ET from Xirrus

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., Jan. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- You must be doing something right when your competitors fight back with baseless lies. Xirrus® was forwarded a communication in response to a recent win at a prestigious Academy in the United Kingdom. This communication was yet another attempt by Aruba Networks® and its partners to mislead the public about Xirrus' Wi-Fi technology. The customer in this case purchased Xirrus instead of Aruba Networks and was thereby subjected to a series of misstatements in an attempt to discredit their decision and mislead others in future purchases.


Xirrus has again (see Xirrus Corrects Aruba Networks' Competitive Claims, September 2, 2009) chosen to provide an open and transparent response to this latest set of claims in hopes that future competition between the two companies is based on technical merit and not fabricated inaccuracies. Xirrus highly recommends that all organizations selecting a Wi-Fi vendor demand an evaluation using real product, an active site survey, and an implementation guarantee so that technical merit prevails and any risk is eliminated in the final deployment.

WARNING: The following statements are direct excerpts from a communication based on Aruba's claims.  Xirrus is not responsible for poor grammar or semantics contained therein.

Aruba and its partners state:

"... there are very few installations of Xirrus in education."

Xirrus response:

Xirrus currently has over 3,000 educational installations around the world, ranging from small (80 radios / 10 Arrays) to very large (8,000 radios / 1,000 Arrays). 

Aruba and its partners state:

"The story of Xirrus is "different" and very often that makes people look at them (people like something that's "different"), however many of the educated and knowledgeable (i.e; wireless-savvy) organizations do not deploy their solution because they realize that it is flawed."

Xirrus response:

  • The Xirrus architecture is indeed "different" – it is without question the best in the industry for high user densities as demonstrated by the hundreds of customer press releases and customer deployments publicly available on our website. High user density and Wi-Fi capacity, together with the fact that we do it with fewer devices, is why customers select Xirrus.
  • Xirrus works with each customer to achieve complete satisfaction and backs it with a guarantee – no other competitor will volunteer a guarantee unless they are forced to do so.

Aruba and its partners state:

"Sure, a lightly loaded school with few devices and not particularly demanding applications will work on their system, but quite frankly, you can bring in some Belkin or Netgear AP's from PC Connection and make it work. The real issue is when you start deploying higher concentrations of users, with demanding traffic profiles (i.e; mixture of data, voice and video) alongside management of the WLAN is when it really counts, and Xirrus will at that stage fail."

Xirrus response:

  • High user density Wi-Fi is what Xirrus does better than anyone else.  Don't take our word for it, ask our customers, including John O'Gara from Microsoft Events who said in a press release last year (see Microsoft Events Selects Xirrus to Deliver Ultra-High Density Wi-Fi, August 31, 2009) "We had an opportunity to partner with Xirrus at our Professional Developer's Conference to solve something we hadn't yet been able to solve, which is the high capacity, high density four, five or six thousand people in one room problem.  We have tried for years, but hadn't yet succeeded – Xirrus partnered up with us ... and delivered 100%.  Never had any issues."
  • High user density can only be handled by more radio capacity. The simple fact is that Xirrus puts many more radios in the air in the same physical space compared with the competitors, hence more bandwidth and user capacity.
  • A 2-radio "thin" AP with an admitted controller-based encryption bottleneck cannot possibly scale better than a 4- or 8- radio Array where full line rate encryption and a dedicated CPU are provided directly in the device.

Aruba its partners state:

"Each Xirrus array is powered up through a special power injector therefore no 802.3af support. Customers will not be able to use their existing 802.3af infrastructure to power up Xirrus arrays"

Xirrus response:

Xirrus Arrays integrate the radios, controller, switch, and line rate encryption engine into a single device. This design significantly reduces the number of devices that must be powered in the first place (typically 75% fewer compared to standard APs) and eliminates completely the controller equipment (and subsequent power requirements) from the IDF closet. Xirrus provides high Power over Ethernet mid-span injectors that do not compromise the performance of 802.11n implementations that many competitive vendor's 802.3af powered products do.

The Xirrus architecture allows customers to more effectively use their existing switch infrastructure by significantly reducing the number of switch ports needed to connect Xirrus Arrays vs. traditional APs. This means that for every Array deployed, there are typically 3 fewer switch ports required.  Furthermore, 75% fewer cables have to be pulled and 75% fewer devices that have to be installed and maintained.

Aruba and its partners state:

"In addition, the failure on the switching infrastructure, the cable pulled to the AP, or the array itself will effect a large portion of the WLAN and will not offer redundancy."

Xirrus response:

The integrated controller in every Array makes Xirrus the most reliable solution in the industry.  With an Aruba centralized controller solution, a controller failure or brownout will negatively impact large numbers of users. Redundancy requires an expensive backup controller. The distributed architecture of Xirrus means only an isolated portion of the network would potentially be impacted.

The Xirrus Array has redundancy built in at every level:

  • Dual GigE ports for redundant wired connectivity.
  • Dual power supplies for redundant powering options.
  • Redundant radio coverage, with each radio antenna providing full overlap with adjacent radios. A single radio failure means 360 degree coverage will still be provided for the entire area. Compare this to a 2 radio Aruba AP (1x5GHz radio and 1x2.4GHz). If one radio fails, coverage for that band is lost across the entire covered area.
  • Automatic RF tuning for each radio in the Xirrus Array. If one radio or Array stops working, other Arrays will detect this and automatically increase the coverage of the appropriate radios to cover the affected area.
  • Device failover mode that brings a second redundant Array online if one Array goes down.

Aruba and its partners state:

"The Aruba APs can be placed in different locations within that space offering more flexibility and capacity. it will provide multiple channel capacity and enable RF redundancy in case of AP, switch, cable failures. The fact that Xirrus arrays include multiple radios does not automatically imply that they will provide higher performance, same number of Aruba radios can cover greater area of space and provide increased capacity due to flexibility in AP placement within the WLAN."

Xirrus response:

All that "flexibility" means is that you have to deploy many more APs just to get the needed coverage, and even more APs to get high capacity – all of which will exact cable, installation, licensing, maintenance, and ultimately cost penalties.

As the statement implies, multiple radios are needed for a high performance, highly scalable network – this we agree about. The Xirrus Array provides exactly that – a patented, specially designed casing that allows multiple radios to operate in a confined area, much like cellular antennas. Xirrus has walked into numerous schools and has seen standard APs crammed together trying to provide the radio density that Xirrus offers.  However, customers repeatedly state that this simply does not work.

Aruba and its partners state:

"Xirrus WLANs are not designed for capacity, they are design for coverage, a single array includes multiple antennas each covering around 90 degrees of area in space, for a total coverage of 360 degrees per array with a single channel presence at all points inside that 360 degrees. In case the Xirrus array need to be deployed for capacity (multi channel presence at any point in space and high availability in RF coverage), more arrays will be required, increasing cost of the deployment and negating cable cost saving and other  benefits promoted by Xirrus."

Xirrus response:

  • Xirrus provides both greater coverage (nearly 4X that of standard APs) AND more user capacity.
  • Xirrus has different models of Arrays that come with 4, 8, 12, 16 or 24 radios allowing you choice in the amount of user capacity desired at any location.
  • Each radio in a Xirrus Array operates on a different channel (not a single channel as implied by the Aruba statement). Multiple radios on different channels provide more user capacity.
  • For customers looking to increase user capacity, providing more radios on different channels is the only effective way to do so (this is true for all vendors).
  • For Aruba (or any competitor using traditional APs), the only way to increase user capacity in a location is to add more APs (radios) at that location.  Having multiple APs at the same location just for capacity is not economical (it requires up to four times the cable, installation, switch ports, AP licenses, and ongoing maintenance)
  • Xirrus is consistently selected as the Wi-Fi solution for high user density deployments, examples including Microsoft Events, Interop Las Vegas/New York Conventions, International Telecommunications Union, Farnborough Air Shows, and over 200+ convention centers and sporting venues.

Aruba and its partners state:

"The fact that Xirrus arrays operate in an autonomous fashion does not make a higher density of arrays easily manageable, load balancing of wireless clients across different arrays (it is only functional across radios of the same array), L3 roaming across different arrays with seamless security policy (some Xirrus customers are enabling this with the help from Aruba controllers by running them behind Xirrus arrays!) and dynamic RF management across arrays (Xirrus support manually run static channels)."

Xirrus response:

  • Aruba controllers cannot manage Xirrus Arrays – this is a completely erroneous statement and shows a major lack of understanding in the Xirrus Array product.
  • The Wi-Fi Array has intelligence that can provide not only automatic RF configuration, but can dynamically adjust to changes, allowing it to provide the greatest coverage, capacity and performance in the industry including:


Automatic channel and power configuration for all radios


Automatic coverage expansion for a failed radio or Array via self-tuning cell sizes in the presence of other Arrays


Automatic client load balancing based on number of users and 802.11 mode that improves 802.11n client performance in the presence of legacy devices


Sectored antenna design helps ignore co-channel interference from other APs and stations, including per-sector control of transmit power and receive sensitivity


Enhanced data rate selection at the radio in real time on a packet-by packet basis improves throughput

  • Load balancing works better with Xirrus Arrays than Aruba APs since more radios are available to each user. A standard Aruba network design provides a user with 2 radios to choose from and share, and at most 4 radios when at the edge of a cell.  An Array provides a minimum of 4 radios, and up to 16 radios in our most dense device. This provides many more radios for the client to connect offering a greater flexibility and more bandwidth to "load balance" users.
  • Xirrus Arrays support Layer 2 and Layer 3 fast roaming without the need of any additional backend controller for seamless (sub-50 msec) roaming.

Aruba and its partners state:

"Xirrus arrays, due to the fact that they include directional antennas, can transmit to greater distances, but only towards the client. Due to impact of rate vs. range in 802.11 (the farther away from the AP, the lower a client's transmit rate will be), the wireless clients will not be able to talk back to the Xirrus array at high data rates. In other words, it does not matter if a Xirrus array can send a packet to a wireless client that is say 200ft away, client will not be able to operate at an acceptable speed at that range when talking back."

Xirrus response:

Obviously, this statement shows a lack of understanding of RF principles. Directional antennas (antenna gain) work in both directions. Directional antennas allow Xirrus radios to transmit further, but they also allow the radios to "listen better" and receive weaker signals than standard omni-directional antennas. Directional antennas enable the Xirrus Array to both transmit and receive further than Aruba APs.

Aruba and its partners state:

"Even with Xirrus high power directional antennas on their arrays, RF propagation will still be affected by building material and architecture. Deploying Xirrus arrays might be practical in open areas of space but it is not practical to deploy Xirrus arrays for different sets of smaller areas (eg. conference rooms, classrooms, offices, labs, etc.)  if the RF signals cannot penetrate into such small areas, deploying Xirrus arrays inside each to enable high performance connectivity will certainly not be practical logistically and due to increased cost."

Xirrus response:

The directional antennas of the Array provide advantage in difficult RF environments the same as open areas. The same 2X range and 4X coverage advantage still applies, resulting in less cable, fewer switch ports, and reduced licensing for every AP saved. Relative range reduction will occur indoors based on different building materials and architecture for either an Array or an AP, but the Array will always provide better range due to its directional antennas. This has been proven time and time again in a wide range of building types including old stone schools, modern office complexes, and even jail cells. Xirrus will be glad to come on site to any location, fire up the product, and allow a direct comparison to another product.

About Xirrus

Xirrus, the only Wi-Fi Power-Play™, manufacturers the Wi-Fi Array® architecture that displaces both overlay Wi-Fi offerings and switched Ethernet or Fast Ethernet to the desktop. Unlike traditional access points, the Wi-Fi Array integrates 4, 8, 12, 16 or 24 802.11abgn radios along with a high-gain directional antenna system, onboard multi-gigabit switch, Wi-Fi controller, firewall, dedicated Wi-Fi threat sensor, and an embedded spectrum analyzer into a single energy-efficient and cost-effective device using 75% fewer devices, cabling, switch ports, power, space, and installation time compared with any other offering.  For more information, please visit

Xirrus – The Wi-Fi Power-Play™

Xirrus – Switching: Without Wires™

Xirrus – High Performance Wi-Fi™

Xirrus – Wi-Fi Array®

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