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Aruba Revs Its Wireless Gear with ArubaOS 6.0 release

Wireless networking isn't just about hardware: The underlying operating system can make a big difference, too. That's what wireless networking vendor Aruba (NASDAQ: ARUN) is betting on with its new ArubaOS 6.0 operating system.

ArubaOS is the underlying network operating system that powers Aruba's wireless access points and controllers, and is built on top of a Linux base. With ArubaOS 6.0, new spectrum analysis, security and quality of service capabilities are being baked in. The new ArubaOS comes as Aruba is growing its market footprint following a partnership deal with Dell.

With ArubaOS 6.0, new spectrum analysis technology is being built into the operating system to help wireless networks overcome signal noise issues.

"It does not come in the form of new management software or new access point hardware," Ozer Dondurmacioglu, product marketing manager at Aruba told InternetNews.com. "For our existing 802.11n customers, it's just a software upgrade."

In contrast, rival networking vendor Cisco rolled out it own spectrum analysis technology called Clean Air in April, which is a dedicated silicon solution integrated with Cisco Aironet 3500 series access points.

Dondurmacioglu explained that Aruba's spectrum analysis technology can provide real-time spectrograms, channel quality and device classification for non Wi-Fi noise sources. He added that even though the spectrum analysis is being run on existing hardware without the benefit of dedicated silicon, performance can still be maintained.

Security

On the security front, ArubaOS 6.0 includes a technology called TotalWatch to protect access points and wireless network infrastructure.

"TotalWatch gives us the ability to detect things faster and collect more information from the air," Dondurmacioglu said. "One of the features is the ability to scan the air in 5 MHz increments."

Dondurmacioglu noted that usually channel spacing in 802.11n is based on 20 MHz increments. As such, with TotalWatch, Aruba is able to look at channels that otherwise might be overlooked by enterprises, that could potentially be leveraged by attackers to hide.

Additionally, Aruba is including what it refers to as Tarpit technology, in an effort to trap malicious traffic automatically.

"When we detect a wireless threat, instead of sending the threat de-authentication frames or wireless frames to kick the device off the network, we act like we are the rogue access point and basically attack the attacker," Dondurmacioglu said. "That allows the attacker to connect to our network and when they connect to our network, we don't respond to their IP requests and they just stay there."

Aruba has plenty of experience dealing with malicious threats having been the Wi-Fi vendor for the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas for the last several years. As part of its Black Hat deployments, Aruba has leveraged its Airwave on Demand cloud management service which can also be tied into the new ArubaOS 6.

"TotalWatch runs on the controller and the access points and helps us to collect data from the air and to classify the rogues. We report that information back to the Airwave," Dondurmacioglu said. "So we basically tell Airwave, here is the information we collected and then Airwave comes into the picture as a centralized real-time monitoring and historical reporting tool."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.