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New Features from Aruba Networks Address Mobile Growth in Schools

Aruba Networks has framed a new architecture for its technology offerings designed to addresses increasingly mobile users. Referred to by the company as "#GenMobile," this generation of users falls between the ages of 18 and 35 and is characterized by a desire to work anytime, anywhere; purchase mobile devices more than other groups; and seek a more "connected" world in all aspects of their lives, from the clothes they wear to the cars they drive.

The architecture put forward by Aruba is intended to support the networking needs of these highly mobile individuals and is underpinned by new and recent enhancements in several product areas, including visibility into the IT infrastructure and security automation.

Updates in the AppRF technology within the ArubaOS 6.4 firewall module, available now, provides more granular inspection of the types of applications running on the network and gives the network administrator greater control over how the network will handle them. In a prepared statement the company said the new deep packet inspection functionality allows IT to set granular role-based policies, quality of service and "bandwidth contracts" for 1,500 mobile applications, including those that are encrypted.

In a K-12 environment, as an example, a district could choose to block all social media apps by selecting a "social media" category but then allow Edmodo or Facebook as an isolated exception to allow teachers to communicate with students. Or IT could allow video-based learning via YouTube but limit how much bandwidth streaming video is allotted for that purpose.

A new unified communications dashboard from Aruba will allow IT to monitor and manage that kind of network traffic. With the new feature, network administrators can point and click to retrieve usage metrics and visualize real-time call quality by location. The initial release works with Microsoft Lync. The dashboard will be available as part of Airwave 8.0, the next version of Aruba's network management system, expected in May 2014.

A new Auto Sign-On feature uses the Wi-Fi login to authenticate a user for single sign-on-enabled applications. This feature, available now, surfaces in ArubaOS 6.4 as well as ClearPass 6.3, the company's policy manager. The intent is to simplify access to applications that require login. It can be integrated with single-sign-on services already in use within the environment or it can be used stand-alone.

Aruba's AirGroup has also been updated. This technology, which is part of ArubaOS and ClearPass, has traditionally allowed people with Apple iOS devices to find and use services across IP subnets based on their network role, location and time of day. Now AirGroup has been enhanced to allow users to share screens and stream media with non-iOS devices that use Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) standards.

"Our customers have found that the all-wireless workplace is easily afforded by rightsizing the network and redirecting IT investments," said Keerti Melkote, Aruba's founder and chief technology officer. The new architecture, he noted, "will enable IT departments to build intelligent and self-optimizing infrastructures where security actions are automated, performance is enhanced, and efficient workflows adapt to the dynamics of mobility. The resulting right-sized network reduces capital costs associated with the fixed wired infrastructure and delivers an integrated mobility experience that everyone can depend on."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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