New Way to Manage WLANs

Suite from startup enables design, surveying, security.

WLAN switching startup Aruba Wireless Networks Inc. has developed a management tool that helps IT managers plan, tweak and secure wireless networks.

RF Director is an umbrella platform that includes three management applications: RF Plan, RF Analyze and RF Lock, said officials at the San Jose, Calif., company.

RF Plan is a three-dimensional site survey tool that lets IT managers design a wireless network without having to understand the interaction between radio waves and various building materials. It works in conjunction with Arubas AirOS management software to create a self-configuring wireless LAN that calibrates propagation (either continually or at preset intervals) to manage traffic as changes occur.

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RF Analyze captures packets on a per-channel or per-access-point basis—keeping track of statistics such as interference errors, bandwidth rates, frame sizes and byte counts—and then graphs them over various time periods. The statistics are available over SNMP to help IT managers control bandwidth use.

Finally, RF Lock is a security tool that detects and disables rogue access points and flags legitimate ones that are not secured.

The applications work in conjunction with Arubas existing switching system, in which the access points can also work as intrusion monitors.

"With the Aruba product, were able to do more than just basic intrusion monitoring," said Joshua Wright, senior network and security architect at Johnson & Wales University, in Providence, R.I. "If [RF Analyze] finds overlapping ranges, we can use the unnecessary access points as monitors."

The university is also able to incorporate its existing 250 access points from Enterasys Networks Inc. by using a virtual LAN to trunk them over to the Aruba switch, Wright said. The switch can also control the access points at the schools four other campuses via a virtual private network, which meant Johnson & Wales had to buy only one switch.

Due this week, RF Plan, RF Analyze and RF Lock are priced at $2,000, $3,000 and $10,000, respectively.