Monday, March 18, 2013

Aruba: VisualRF, AppRF and AirWave (Getting better all the time) #WFD4


Keerti Melkote presented the history of Aruba and told us they celebrated their 11 year birthday on February 14th! Aruba sees opportunity for innovation around client location awareness and utilizing software defined networking architectures in a campus environment. IPV6 will continue to be more and more important and will impact network designs in the future.

Aruba AirWave: Monitoring the Health of a Wi-Fi Network from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

Rob Gin (Aruba's AirWave expert) and Sujatha Mandava (Product Manager for AirWave) gave us a login to AirWave and we spent some time digging around viewing our client statistics and network utilization information. I made a few screen captures of views I found interesting. I could focus on a single client to see the information on client link, can focus/unfocus the display to show the access point information for just that single client device. The help desk view in AirWave does not allow you to adjust the thresholds per device types for alerts, but the Admin view will let you make those adjustments. Airwave tracks upstream devices and can determine which switch a controller is connected to in order to view wired/wireless data. They use the bridge forwarding table or CDP to gather information from switches. They can take anything in MIB2 to correlate information on the upstream device. The RF Performance views can start from the client perspective. The charts begin with information on clients with low SNR values. RF attenuation will be recalculated based upon the access points data that they can detect from one another. The colored lines to the clients from the access point shows the frequency (2.4 or 5GHz) that the clients that are connected on. The "Simulate failure" button shows the RF coverage without that single access point. You will be able to export client session reports to CSV and get them emailed to you in version 7.7 code.

VisualRF does location calculations on its own, unlike Cisco's MSE which is used to perform location tracking calculations. AirWave/Visual RF can take location information from Prime and use that information to place clients on the floor plan. Autoprovisioning of access points can be done for a defined region and calculated based on coverage needs (voice/data rates/signal strength). AirWave can be configured for specific triggers to alert on given events: Hard Drive space, RF utilization etc. The administrator can drag and drop the rules (from the Rules page in Airwave) to prioritize them on the fly (like mobile ACLs). Access point OUI information can be used to filter out rogues by a single vendor (like 2WIRE SSIDS). Airwave is capable of storing data for up to 5 years. Airwave is priced on device count. Access points, switches and controllers count as one device count.

AppRF in version 7.7 will provide information to AirWave (similar to Cisco's AVC) will show the top 3 destinations of client traffic, top trends for top 3 applications and uses NetFlow-like information.

Aruba Controllerless Wi-Fi from Stephen Foskett on Vimeo.

One of the access points at a remote site would have an https connection to AirWave for reporting on RF statistics. The number of possible users per controllerless group depends on vlan sizing. Aruba no longer recommend lots of access points in the branch managed by a controller in the data center and for the home offices, Aruba is still recommend having a controller at HQ managing the remote home users.

Aruba makes use of software managed AP purposing, instant APs, RAPs etc. The access point function is determined by the software that has been loaded onto the access point.

Ozer presented the evolution of the controller/controllerless architectures. There are many reasons why you would choose a controller based solution vs a controllerless solution. 

Questions to ask your wireless vendor about their architecture options:

Can your controllers perform:
  • Centralized encryption and policy enforcement?
  • Local and centralized switching at the same time?

Can your controllerless APs:
  • Self configure from the cloud
  • Work without extra management software

Can i move from controllerless to controllers?
  • With the same APs?
  • Without going to the ceiling?

Can I mix and match architectures?

Scott Calzia (Product Manager of Aruba's Campus Controller product line) reviewed the features/functions of the 7200 series controller. It's the 3rd generation controller platform. There are 3 models of controllers: 7210, 7220, 7240. Each has four 1/10GB interfaces. The pair of dual media ports, can be used for interface connectivity, OOB or HA. Each has hot swappable load sharing redundant power supplies and field replaceable fan trays. There is an optional expansion slot *currently not in use*.

The highest end controller can support the following:

2000,000 firewall sessions
2048 APs, 32k devices 40GB
8 cores cpu, four cpus each.
SSD 8GB SD RAM 8GB EOS Flash memory
The controller hardware available now scales to support 4x the number of access points than it did previously.
The controller can support up to 40GB of encrypted throughput.

Balajee Krishnamurthy (Aruba TME) described AppRF as able to define policy decisions based upon applications detected on the wireless network. AppRF can identify applications based on ports and urls being used/accessed. deep packet inspection is possible and there are heuristics for lync, bittorrent, skype. AppRF can monitors the call setup and sync to differentiate Lync voice from Lync data (XML API). Lync voice/video over the air is prioritized, reporting in the Firewall dashboard doesn't have the differentiation to show the different data streams in Lync.

David Munro and Neil Kulkarni covered the Aruba Instant / controllerless solution.
The activate as a service is free for Instant AP deployments via If you have a virtual controller at remote location, additional instant aps discover virtual controller and download image and config from airwave management mode at the data center

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