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Aruba Airs New Software

Aruba Wireless Networks has today announced three new software tools intended to improve the radio implementation, management, and security of its wireless LAN switch products.

The three tools, called RF Analyze, RF Lock, and RF Plan, are being bundled and sold under the common name "RF Director" (see Aruba Unveils RF Director). The company also plans to incorporate select third-party plug-ins into the software suite, the first being AiroPeek from WildPackets Inc., which enables a network administrator to walk around with a suitably-equipped laptop or handheld computer and monitor network traffic (see WildPackets Takes Second Peek).

Keerti Melkote, co-founder and vice president of product management and marketing at Aruba, describes the RF Director package as an umbrella radio manager that sits on top of Aruba's 802.11 switch products and exposes capabilities in the hardware. "It lets you visualize what's really happening in the air," he says.

The three different radio applications break out like this:

  • RF Analyze is a network monitoring tool that builds on the capabilities of Aruba's existing Air Monitor software and hardware (see Aruba's Switch Pitch). Additional features delivered by the new tool include the ability to split network traffic running third-party access points as well as Aruba's own "skinny" APs. Load balancing 802.11 traffic over all the radio nodes in the network should improve overall performance.

  • RF Lock is an attempt to counter some of the security problems that afflict current 802.11 networks. Melkote says the new software can deal with station impersonation (a.k.a. "evil twin") attacks, where a hacker sets up an unauthorized base station with a stronger signal, close to the official network, that mimics a legitimate base station; and denial-of-service attacks, where a hacker tries to flood the radio network by repeatedly pinging it; and also detect illegal and unauthorized network sniffing programs. (There's a nice little guide to 802.11 security problems here.)

  • RF Plan is a network layout program that works with Aruba's AirOS but provides a dynamic 3D modeling tool that shows the RF characteristics of all the nodes in the network. Previously, the Aruba software provided a snapshot of the network, but RF Plan can be set up so that it continually shows the current network status or provides regular updates for the network manager.

    The software is available now.

    Aruba started shipping its initial wireless LAN switch products on June 1 this year. Melkote says the firm has so far shipped "over 30 boxes," with the typical setup using two of its switches.

    Aruba's rivals in this emerging market include Airespace Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and Trapeze Networks Inc..

    — Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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