Aruba Networks today announced a package of software upgrades designed to better accommodate all-wireless workplaces, including sites where it's common to see an employee using three different mobile devices with multiple applications.
Several of the software improvements -- all free to existing customers -- are designed to help IT managers optimize their oversight of Wi-Fi networks, which can lower help desk complaints and improve worker efficiency.
One of the new tools, Auto Sign-On, is focused on helping end users. Instead of signing in to each enterprise application, such as SalesForce.com, with a lengthy password that's hard to input on a small smartphone keyboard, the tool uses a worker's Wi-Fi login to automatically authenticate an employee with single sign-on.
Auto Sign-On is available now with Aruba OS 6.4 and Aruba's ClearPass 6.3 software.
Another tool, AirGroup, can be upgraded for free (on Aruba OS 6.45 and ClearPass 6.3) to help end users share presentations and streamed media across 200 devices, including Apple devices, and products based on the Digital Living Network Alliance and Universal Plug and Play standards. The tool should lessen the need for IT support, Aruba said.
Other new products include an interactive Unified Communications Dashboard, available in May for free with AirWave 8.0. Aruba officials called the dashboard an industry first, since it brings together network performance metrics and enterprise unified communications performance into a single view. With that ability, an IT administrator would have a dashboard view of all the mobile employees on a floor plan, giving insight on such things as how a Skype session is performing, said Manav Khurana, Aruba's vice president of product marketing.
Also offered is a next-generation Mobility Firewall with deep-packet inspection capabilities. Available now for free in Aruba OS 6.4, the firewall is designed to give administrators control of up to 1,500 different cloud and collaboration apps.
Rounding out the software upgrades are ClearPass Exchange application programming interfaces, available now for free with ClearPass 6.3. The APIs will help IT shops integrate ClearPass with business systems from IBM, AirWatch and ServiceNow, among others.
Khurana said the five upgrades are all industry firsts. "We are the first ones to provide them and the only ones ...We're leading the industry in terms of the all-wireless workplace adoption," he said.
Aruba's improvements are in areas where other wireless LAN vendors are headed, said Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group.
Aruba's announcement shows that the industry is moving beyond hardware with new Wi-Fi access points and controllers, Mathias said. "This [announcement] is about system-level functionality that's designed to deal with the dramatic increase in wireless demand [from BYOD and mobile devices] that's being seen in most organizations today," he said.
After IT shops have installed the latest 802.11ac access points and controllers with a wired network, what is now becoming important is the ability to maximize the network with security for every device and every application used by every user, he added. "It's all about being able to refine the internal control-plane functionality of a given WLAN installation to optimize traffic flow," Mathias said.
This article, Aruba announces five software tools for optimizing Wi-Fi networks, was originally published at Computerworld.com.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].
Read more about wireless networking in Computerworld's Wireless Networking Topic Center.