Ruckus simplifies the authentication, security and troubleshooting of Wi-Fi-enabled smart mobile devices with FlexConnect
Date: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 13:58
Ruckus Wireless announced FlexConnect™, a unique collection of patented technologies that streamline the provisioning and security of a wide range of smart mobile devices to better enable corporations to deal with the barrage of new Wi-Fi-enabled devices hitting enterprise networks
The company also detailed future plans to support the automatic identification and classification (so called device fingerprinting) of new smart mobile devices, opening the door to device-specific policy enforcement, visibility, management and self-registration.
"We are experiencing device usage growth like we've never seen before – and the impact on computer networks is profound and permanent," said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. Smartphones will outsell personal computers by 2012, according to a recent report by Morgan Stanley. And new research from In-Stat forecasts that spending on non-handset 3G and 4G services will exceed $5 billion by 2014. According to the report, enterprise spending made up over 62% of business spending on non-handset data services – amounting to over $1.9 billion in 2010.
Providing easy and secure Wi-Fi access to support users bringing their own smart devices to enterprise and carrier networks has quickly become a major issue for network IT staff. The traditional 802.1X/EAP enterprise security is secure but very configuration intensive for both the IT staff and end user.
FlexConnect leverages patented Ruckus Zero IT™, Dynamic PSK™ (pre-shared key) and SpeedFlex™ technologies to eliminate tedious user complexity while simplifying the administration and troubleshooting of Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones and tablet devices. Zero IT provides ease-of-use device provisioning for configuration parameters while Dynamic PSK automates the creation of per-user encryption keys that can be easily distributed using the Zero IT framework.
With FlexConnect, IT staff can now automatically provision wireless device settings (such as SSIDs and unique pre-shared keys) on mobile devices while also provisioning other wireless authentication and security parameters (such as 802.1X supplicants and certificates).
Having deployed the Ruckus ZoneFlex system across 43 K-12 schools, NEBO School District in Utah is using FlexConnect to configure devices and provide automatic role-based access and security to the network for various user groups. When users are authenticated via its Active Directory domain server, the ZoneDirector automatically places them into a pre-defined role, based on the group policy within Active Directory. The system then downloads and installs the wireless LAN profile and permission on each device without manual intervention from IT staff.
"FlexConnect has been a huge OPEX saver for us," said Dale Bills, director of technology for NEBO School District. "With everyone bringing their own devices onto school campuses, we now have a scalable model for securely provisioning these devices with little or no IT support. Integrating this type of intelligence into the Wi-Fi network is essential with the amount of devices we are expected to support."
Flexible and secure connectivity for smart mobile devices
Instead of manually configuring individual devices with encryption keys, 802.1X supplicants and wireless configuration information, Dynamic PSK automates and centralizes this process within the network. Once enabled for the entire system through a simple check box within the ZoneDirector WLAN controller, a new user simply connects to the wireless network through a provisioning SSID and authenticates via a captive portal. This information is checked against any standard back-end authentication system such as Active Directory, RADIUS or an internal user database on the ZoneDirector.
Once authenticated, a unique encryption key is generated for each user. Zero IT then pushes a configuration applet with the unique user key and other Wi-Fi configuration information to each device. This applet automatically configures the user's device without human intervention. Once associated to the requisite WLAN, the Dynamic PSK (with a configurable lifetime) is bound to the user and the end device. Ruckus Dynamic PSK and Zero IT facilities are supported across a wide range of smart devices including Apple iPads, iPhones, Android OS, Windows Mobile, and Windows CE platforms.
FlexConnect also provides the unique ability to better remotely troubleshoot wireless-only handheld smart devices through SpeedFlex. SpeedFlex is a custom performance test tool that generates uplink and downlink throughput capacity and packet loss test results for each client device. This testing can also be performed for each hop within a multi-hop mesh node network.
SpeedFlex allows administrators to easily measure the Wi-Fi throughput of associated WLAN devices and quickly identify and isolate network bottlenecks. With SpeedFlex, administrators can better plan, troubleshoot, monitor and measure WLAN performance, eliminating the need for Internet-based measurement tools or costly performance tools that often provide accurate results of the local Wi-Fi environment. From any centralized ZoneDirector WLAN system, administrators remotely invoke a speed test for a specific user thereby isolating client issues. SpeedFlex differs from existing test tools because it was developed specifically for Wi-Fi and focuses on characterizing performance at the wireless link layer.
Available now, FlexConnect is supported in all ZoneFlex products running Smart/OS 9.1 and higher.