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Aruba Upgrades OS

ArubaOS 3.1 and the Aruba Mobility Management System (MMS) 2.0 are now available to customers of Aruba Networks. The focus of the new software is on scalable mobility.

"Everyone started with wireless in conference rooms and small areas, at least a couple of years ago," says Jon Green, Aruba product manager. "Today, they start with wireless from the beginning. We get orders asking for 4,000 access points to go in within three months. So we had to look at the architecture of our software and see where we had limits -- and get rid of them."

New or updated features include items like Virtual Mobile Networks (VMNs), which take the place of multiple customized SSIDs, replacing them with logical groupings of Aruba controllers and APs with their own rules. VMNs are not based on the location of the APs, but on their definition -- all APs in conference rooms throughout a building, for example, instead of all the APs on one floor.

"It's like server virtualization, the same equipment, but with multiple instances of the same software," says Green. "The profiles allow anything with a global configuration construct to be part of a profile. So you could have the same mobility controller with multiple profiles running."

An example Aruba comes back to frequently is its recent deployment at Ohio State University (OSU), which has 75,000 users spread across a 1,700-acre campus. OSU didn't want multiple SSIDs -- so students could be connected the same way in the dorm, library, cafeteria or classroom -- but they still wanted to have room to add applications like voice or video.

"The students don't care -- it’s the same experience wherever they go," says Green, "but the underlying workings may be different wherever they go. The math department may say, 'You can't go to certain sites during class.'" The student would only be blocked from such sites while in a math department classroom.

Along with VMNs, new support for "management contexts" enables delegation to the right admins for the right kind of equipment.

MMS 2.0 has new functions compared to 1.0, which gave ArubaOS the ability to plan and monitor larger networks. 2.0 has full network configuration and policy management now, through a new dashboard view that improves on the standard Web-based user interface (which Aruba has also improved to more logically group functions of the network).

ArubaOS 3.1 has a new bandwidth management system that handles things at the AP level, preventing clients from hogging the system.

"We feel strongly that 2007 will be the year for voice," says Green. That means improved VoWi-Fi via the Voice Service Module, now with dynamic Wi-Fi MultiMedia (WMM) queue management for quality of service (QoS).

No system is complete without some location tracking these days, and Aruba is working with AeroScout to recognize the latter's Wi-Fi asset tracking tags.

Security-wise, they're going to speed up the authentication using EAP-TLS, just like they did with PEAP last year. Security services new to 3.1 include a syslog processor that handles logs from third-party appliances, enhanced guest connection features, working with ArcSight to make a SmartAgent that reports to the ArcSight management platform for correlating security event messages, and sending intrusion detection messages to the open source IPS called Snort.

ArubaOS 3.1 is going to be available later this week to existing Aruba support customers; MMS 2.0 is ready now, but costs $3,995 new (free to customers with 1.0).