Better Understand Enterprise Wi-Fi Technologies

Aruba wireless solution

Better Understand Enterprise Wi-Fi Technologies

Aruba wireless solution

Aruba wireless solution provides network access for employees, internet access for guests, and IoT devices’ connectivity. Regardless of the location within the premises, clients have the same connection quality.

Advantages of this solution are:

  • Employee productivity increases via high-quality connection independent of their location and movement.
  • Easy connectivity for hard to wire locations.
  • Centralized control and easy wireless network management.
  • Reliable connection and easy spectrum management.

A contemporary mobile environment requires high throughput and connection quality. Clients can use their credentials to connect via multiple devices from any location within the site, which provides small latency during roaming and good network adaptation during routine access point maintenance or unexpected downtime. Higher access point density can support a larger number of client devices and greater reliability.

Aruba Instant

Aruba wireless network solution has two basic models – networks with and without a controller. Aruba Instant is a network architecture without a controller appropriate for smaller environments. Automatic spectrum management provides better environment organization and protection. Aruba Instant cluster distributes certain functions to the access points (AP). It performs election to choose one AP to serve as a virtual controller for the remaining management and control functions.

The network could be managed through a built-in GUI, Aruba AirWave, appliance or virtual solution, or Aruba Central, a cloud management platform.

Management

Aruba ARM and ClientMatch technologies are software functionalities created for enterprise wireless networks. AppRF Technology, together with Intelligent Application Identification, provides exceptional insight into applications present within a wireless network.

Aruba Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) is a technology intended for radiofrequency (RF) management and optimization of WLAN performances even during the highest traffic peaks. It dynamically and intelligently chooses optimal 802.11 channels and signals power levels for each AP and its surrounding. ARM is compatible with all standard users and operative systems and follows IEEE 802.11 standard. It does not require proprietary user software for the best performances. ARM provides roaming with small latency, consistently high performance, and maximum client compatibility in a multi-channel environment. With good spectrum management, ARM achieves appropriate delegation of network resources to data transfer and voice and video applications at any moment. Clients who support different standards (802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, i 802.11ac) can function with the highest performances.

ARM functionalities:

  • Voice Aware Scanning functionality prevents AP, supporting active voice session, to scan other channels until that session is over. It significantly increases session quality and allows automatic spectrum management functions.
  • Load Aware Scanning function dynamically adjusts spectrum scanning to maintain constant data transfer in a system with demanding resources when traffic crosses a defined threshold.
  • Network monitoring with ARM system – When ARM is enabled, AP dynamically scans all 802.11 channels regularly and sends network coverage, interference, and intrusion reports to the virtual controller.
  • ARM metrics – ARM calculates coverage and interference for every channel and chooses the one with the best performances and signal strength. Every AP collects other metric data about the channels where ARM is activated to get a proper insight into its health state.

 

ClientMatch technology continually monitors the client RF environment to provide the best band steering, load balancing, and optimal roaming for mobile clients. This function is recommended compared to the legacy band steering technologies that were not performing a transfer of the already connected client from one AP to another. If the client walks out of the AP range or an unexpected interference appears, ClientMatch starts the transfer of the client connection to another AP.

Providing all clients with the appropriate level of service is challenging since modern mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, tend to choose by themselves the SSID they will connect to regardless of the network quality it is capable of offering. That could have a significant impact on the client experience and general network health. Consequence could be low signal quality, connection to the oversubscribed AP, or a client that is persistently connected to the same AP while moving through space where other APs are present with higher quality connection (sticky client issue).

Aruba worked on improving its roaming techniques to solve such problems, like band steering and 802.11k/v/r, and created the ClientMatch function. This patented RF optimization technology significantly improves performances and allows predictable and consistent connection through the whole WLAN. As a part of the Aruba AI-powered Mobility Solution, ClientMatch continually monitors the state of all client connections and intelligently groups clients for APs optimized for their traffic transport – a special user software is not needed.

Client behavior significantly impacts the WLAN performance. These are some of the contributing factors:

  • Client-based decision-making – Clients usually decide which AP they will connect to, what speed they are going to use, and if they are going to use roaming. Since they do not have an insight into the environment on a system level, they can stay connected to the oversubscribed network. However, there is another one available with a smaller number of users, which can cause lower performance quality.
  • Unpredictable performances – Lower level of system performance decreases user experience quality and increases the number of calls to the IT department asking for support.
  • Client Diversity – Increased number and diversity of mobile and IoT devices using applications that demand larger bandwidth impacts the network’s performance.
  • Sticky client problems and bad roaming algorithms – These problems are visible when clients stay connected to the same AP during roaming, even if they are far away. That leads to performance degradation for every connected client due to the weakening signal caused by large distances and lower data transfer speed.
  • Clients connect to the AP based on signal strength, not load. Besides sticky client issues, devices usually connect to an AP with the strongest signal present in their area, creating a disbalance in network resource usage.

ClientMatch is different from other technologies developed for solving similar issues because it uses the network’s system-level insight to monitor all connected clients continuously, dynamically gathering client data (signal strength, used channel) for every AP without any additional client software. Client data is collected and exchanged between APs for coordination and better decision making in real-time, following changes in the environment. For example, ClientMatch can identify when the user is connected to the oversubscribed AP and steer it to another with a smaller number of connected clients placed in the vicinity.

Advanced capabilities:

  • Video & voice-awarenessClientMatch has insight into active video and voice sessions in their network. That means that the clients who have active Skype calls will stay connected to minimize their activities.
  • Band Steering – Client with dual-band capabilities will be steered from 2.4GHz to 5GHz band with the better signal strength to improve the number of available channels, signal-to-noise ratio, and data transfer speed.
  • Client steering – Clients and AP performances are continually monitored to achieve supervision and control functions for support to all user devices.
  • Standard compatibility ClientMatch is operational with all Aruba 802.11n, 802.11ac (W1/W2), and wi-fi 6 APs.

 

Security

WPA3 – Basic WPA standard was issued in 2003. to replace WEP, and the next WPA2 got published a year later. WPA3 was released in 2018. in two basic forms: WPA3-Personal and WPA3-Enterprise. WPA3 brings improvements in general usage of encryption during wireless transfer of data thanks to the Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) protocol that replaced the Pre-Shared Key (PSK) authentication used in previous WPA versions. That provides better protection for the WPA3-Personal network that uses simpler access passwords. Clients in the network cannot see each other’s traffic even if they all use the same password. Passive surveillance is not possible if a malicious actor monitors exchange and determines the used session keys. Also, it is not possible to decrypt or alter previously recorded communication. WPA3-Enterprise has additional 192-bit protection intended for the organizations that consider data protection particularly important.

Enhanced OpenAruba Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE). OWE is an alternative for Open network. It is based on the same principles and client requirements. Only a click on the network is practically needed for a client to establish a connection. OWE appears as a standard Open network from the client’s perspective since it has an icon without a lock but has encryption built-in. When the client is authenticated to the AP, OWE applies a non-authenticated Diffie-Hellman key exchange.

AppRF TechnologyAruba AppRF has insight into the application level’s environment, differentiating thousands of individual applications, including GoToMeeting, Box, Skype for Business, SharePoint, Salesforce.com. Also, it performs web filtering, including client activity control while they are searching the Internet. AppRF uses a cloud database updated in real-time on the reputation of million web pages protecting users from malicious attacks before they cause unwanted consequences.

Intelligent Application Identification – Aruba uses Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) on the fourth and seventh OSI level. It allows the AppRF function to monitor mobile application usage and performances and optimize the bandwidth, priority, and network routes in real-time, even for encrypted traffic applications. DPI is significant for understanding behavioral patterns that would require a change in network design and capacity during new app identification.

  • Business applications like Box are different from other applications that clients use for personal needs, like Apple Face-Time, even on the same device.
  • IP multicast video traffic and network services like Apple AirPrint and AirPlay are automatically prioritized with additional controls.
  • DPI resolves destination addresses for web traffic to identify individual applications like Facebook, Twitter, Box, WebEx, and thousands of others.
  • For encrypted traffic, Aruba AppRF technology uses heuristics for identification.
  • For applications that are not of a greater purpose for the business environment, AppRF can limit the bandwidth and prevent congestion in a particular location.

 

Quality of Service

Quality of service (QoS) determines priority for different traffic types to form equal distribution of network resources between applications. Since the end user device connection is basic network access, it is essential to make it the first point for traffic control policy application. Traffic needs to be classified and tagged based on previously defined parameters of the corporative network.

 

Guest Wireless Network

Organizations often have a large number of guest users that need network access. That could be clients, partners, vendors, and depending on their needs, they could use different types of devices and spend time in other business space locations. To support the productivity of such a diverse spectrum of users and their specific roles, an appropriate connection through the corporative network is necessary, often in spaces other than lobbies and conference rooms.

The Aruba wireless network’s flexibility provides the formation of appropriate access for employees and guest users through the same infrastructure without reducing environmental security. Guest user traffic is, after passage through APs, placed in a separate VLAN with a strictly defined internet connection, while on firewall level access to all internal recourses can be disabled.

Access control is provided by redirecting guest users to the captive portal, where clients can enter their credentials. Portal could be hosted on Aruba virtual controller or an external device.

Guest wireless network functionalities are:

  • Internet access for guest users with strict control.
  • WPA3 Enhanced Open characteristics are an encrypted alternative to open networks.
  • Segmentation of AP’s traffic.
  • Support of ephemeral credentials for guest users.

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