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Aruba Networks Reins In The Security Risks Of Mobile Devices

Aruba Networks most recent announcement regarding NAC interoperability
verification and a product announcement
repeat a common anthem of this
vendor's emphasis on security.

The three major NAC groups are Cisco, Microsoft NAP, and the Trusted
Computing Group (TCG); the first two are clearly vendor driven, while the
last is standards-based and enjoys broader industry support. Unable to
drive a standard of its own, Aruba has not hitched itself to any single
group, but has verified NAC interoperability with three technology industry
heavyweights: Cisco, Juniper, and Microsoft. Working with network equipment
market share leader Cisco is almost a de facto requirement, and Microsoft is
Aruba's largest customer, if not most significant. This shouldn't be
considered Aruba's first fore into NAC: they have partnerships with
Bradford, FireEye, Fortinet, InfoExpress, Snort, and as well as Symantec
(via Sygate, though this is end-of-sale).

In addition to their partnerships, Aruba has also announced a new appliance
for "targeted industries". To date Aruba has built most of the products it
sells, preferring to partner where necessary. Ash Chowdappa, director of
mobility management system, stated in a briefing, that Aruba will wait until
the NAC market shakes out before considering to develop something
internally. This time around Aruba OEMed their Aruba Endpoint Compliance
System (ECS) appliance from a vendor that has significant success in the
higher education market. According to Chowdappa, higher education is
Aruba's number one vertical, and they expect ECS to gain traction in
healthcare and hospitality, markets where there are significant numbers of
guest users. Aruba makes the point that many NAC vendors are targeted
toward managed devices such as desktops and laptops, while ECS is able to
deal with unmanaged and transient devices such as Vo-Fi phones, and the
occasional Sony Wii, that may not be able to run an agent. For devices in
this latter group Aruba's ECS can work in tandem with their mobility
controller to implement more restrictive traffic policies leveraging Aruba's
stateful firewall. And this appliance isn't restricted to just wireless
products, as the appliance can take trunked wired traffic, such as guest
VLANs, and enforce policy on those, too.

Aruba is making the right moves in offering its customers multiple NAC
options resulting in great stickiness for their core wireless LAN products.
One of the challenges that Aruba faces is that organizations may look first
to their wired networking equipment vendor for a NAC product, giving Cisco a
natural leg up. Aruba appears to have chosen to OEM a mature product that
integrates with systems in both mediums, and with eventual implementation of
802.11n, may take a larger and larger portion of IT's mindshare and
networking budget.