06 March 2010

The Lessons of Wi-Fi #12: Your Wi-Fi Network Should Not Be A One Trick Pony

Time was when you left work at the office. Those days are long gone. Enterprises and institutions with workforces, offices, or colleagues spread across time zones often have time- and location-shifted working conditions.

Users might need to work from home, on the road, or at a remote site. In all cases, a user will be most productive if the network experience - and access to applications and network resources - is the same remotely as it is at his or her desk at work.

Can the wireless LAN infrastructure that's used in a campus environment pull double duty and be used by remote users, too? The stock answer from most vendors is "nary the twain shall meet" - use a campus wireless LAN at work and a remote access solution like a virtual private network (VPN) everywhere else.

Since using a VPN is very different than accessing a campus network, this means that users need to be trained how and when to use the appropriate access method.
And that means Help Desk calls. The end user is stuck with two parallel, non-intersecting networks to buy, maintain, and learn. Ouch!

The Lessons of Wi-Fi #12: your Wi-Fi network should not be a one-trick pony. One common network infrastructure should support both the campus wireless LAN and off-site users.
And it should provide an identical end user experience regardless of how or where the network is accessed.

Enter Aruba's Virtual Branch Networking (VBN) technology. VBN
uses low-cost Remote Access Points (RAPs) to securely connect remote users, and their Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet devices, back to a controller in the data center. The same controller that runs the campus Wi-Fi network.

standard Aruba indoor access point can be used as a RAP. That means one SKU can serve as both a campus AP or a Wi-Fi enabled remote access device for a home, branch office, or road warrior.

The $99 list price RAP-2 unit pictured here is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket or valise. It works with any IP-based devices - laptops, iPhone, iTouch, PCs, printers, wired and wireless voice over IP phones, wireless projectors - all of which can simultaneously share a single RAP. As can multiple users.

VBN features one-button installation so that a non-technical person can provision a RAP-2 by him or herself. No IT assistance, no user training required. Once commissioned the user just turns on his or her MacBook, PC, iTouch and they're instantly connected to the network...just as they would be on campus.

Data encryption and an integrated firewall provide comprehensive network security for all RAPs, while centralized management ensures speedy diagnostics and updates right over the network.

You don't have to suffer a double budget hit to get best-in-class campus Wi-Fi and secure remote access. So check out VBN and leave it to someone else to relearn the lessons of Wi-Fi.