Aruba Networks has launched a software upgrade to turn its enterprise access points into mesh nodes for awkward offices.

"It's just a bit of software that goes on to the existing platform," said Roger Hockaday, director of marketing at Aruba. "It's easy to deploy, and fixes a problem we come across every week almost." The upgrade can be applied to any Aruba enterprise access point, allowing them to form a mesh of up to six hops.

The mesh supports quality of service, so it can be used for voice on Wi-Fi. It also has policy control, simplifies network management, and scales for large enterprises, but is most likely to be used for small-scale specialist applications, said Hockaday.

"It's useful for any environment where access between buildings is restricted and a limited extension of the network is required," he said. "One real life example is a castle which has Wi-Fi on one site, but is not allowed to dig a cable in. The choice was either this or putting a cable run in the sewer. I know which I would prefer!"

Aruba expects the mesh to be used in mobile classrooms, historic sites, sports stadiums, warehouses, buildings with asbestos, and other challenging installation environments. as
Retailers may be the biggest class of users, as they have operate with a flexible layout in large spaces that can be hard to wire. As well as flexibility they need strong security to meet requirements such as the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS).

Aruba plans for the product to commence shipping in July 2007, and has not released price information.