Aruba Gets Wi-Fi Certified

By Eric Griffith

September 03, 2003

The company now has the first Wi-Fi Alliance certification on a wireless network switch, as well as enough security in place to adequately provide HIPAA-qualified protection in medical facilities.

Aruba Wireless Networks announced this week that its Aruba 5000 modular switch and Aruba 52 802.11a/b access points have been tested and certified for Wi-Fi interoperability by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The tests were done by outside lab Agilent ICL and was specifically for dual-band interoperability in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums.

Through internal testing, Aruba has determined that its 5000 switch interoperates with the following access points from other companies: Agere (model AP-1000), Cisco (models 340, 350, 1100, 1200), Netgear (models HE102, HE314, FM114P, MR814), Linksys (models WAP-55AG, WAP54G, WAP11), D-Link (all models), Avaya (models AP-3, AP-4, AP-5), Symbol (model Spectrum24), Proxim (model Orinoco AP-2000), Intermec (model Mobilian), Buffalo Technology (Airstation products), and Melcor (all models).

Merv Andrade, CTO of Aruba, says the Aruba switch has to "work in environments where people have legacy deployments as well as using our thin access points." He also pointed out that working with these third party products is not the same as turning them into just "thin APs."

However, through these third-party models, the switch will provide load balancing, 802.1X authentication, and the company's own power and serial over Ethernet (SPoE).

SPoE is a patent owned by Aruba, which mixes PoE (the ability to provide electrical power to an access point over standard Ethernet cables) and the serial port found on the back of most enterprise-class access points. Aruba has a split cable it can provide, that has both serial and Ethernet on the access port end. This can then be used not only for power and for monitoring the access point's functions, but for taking advantage of features such as restarting an access that can sometimes only be done over the serial port.

Also, Aruba's products now confirm to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) which requires that all health care areas provide for the confidentiality of patient records both for storage and transmission. HIPAA compliance includes use of advanced encryption, access control, and user authentication -- namely "irrefutable" unique identification of the user. Aruba claims the switch's multi-factor authentication meet this requirement. Unauthorized users are summarily rejected by the switch.

"The good and the bad thing about HIPPA," says Andrade, "is that it doesn't stamp one scheme. But that makes it hard for people to choose something. But [the Act] does call out specific features that are needed... we meet all the things needed for HIPPA support, and in a scalable fashion."

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