Aruba has fired on Cisco's flagship, the ISR, with a cheap new branch router. It also hopes to discomfit switched Wi-Fi leader Symbol.

The Aruba 200 Mobility Controller puts the company's wireless switch into a £1,488 package which can support six access points and 100 users, and can be upgraded with software modules to include VPN, firewall IDS and other features. Using a fixed hardware configuration will make this cheaper and more manageable than rival products which use stackable components or blades, said Aruba's European head.

"This could replace Cisco's ISR," said Albert Benhamou, Aruba's European vice president. "Cisco has an integrated box, but they stack blades in it," he said. Blades and stackable systems cost more and need more IT support, he said.

The Wi-Fi blade for Cisco's ISR, based on technology Cisco acquired with Airespace, costs more on its own than the Aruba 200, said Benhamou. Other branch offerings, such as Trapeze's MXR-2 and Symbol's WS2000, still leave the customer to add separate boxes for VPN and firewall, said Benhamou.

Aruba's systems handle encryption centrally, not at the access point, said Benhamou, which means the same system can be used to encrypt traffic on the wired LAN, if a company wants to secure the RJ-45 sockets in its branches.

As well as taking on Cisco, Aruba hopes this product will help it against its rival for second place in the switched Wi-Fi market, Symbol. Although Symbol invented switched Wi-Fi, it has recently lost market share to Aruba, and, says Benhamou, is lagging in technology.

"Symbol does not do as much in the switch as we do," said Benhamou. "We can go after environments where Symbol is installed and replace it. If the Symbol switch is three years old, it really needs replacing." Aruba is specifically aiming this at the retail market, which is one of the areas where Symbol has been successful with its switched wireless system.

Aruba also launched a Mobility Management System, available as an appliance or as software. This takes RF management, WLAN design and network management tasks off the company's wireless switches, and runs them on a general-purpose server. The software version starts at £3,396 list price, while the appliance costs around £12,000.