Aruba Atmosphere 2019: Wi-Fi 6 takes the stage

 In IT News/Events, News

Are you ready for 802.11ax?

While you might be, your devices likely aren’t. That’s because many devices we already own aren’t running the new standard. So while you’re patiently waiting for the wave of 802.11ax (aka Wi-Fi 6) devices and the perks that come with it – like better device battery life and faster data speeds – manufacturers like Aruba are preparing for the Wi-Fi 6 explosion.

At Aruba Atmosphere 2019, the company revealed its new 802.11ax access points, and when we can expect them on the market. The conference also delved into some of Aruba’s other latest technologies, discussed its HER movement to empower minority groups in today’s workforce, and provided hands-on experiences to its 3,000 attendees, including myself and my colleague, Zack Pigott. If I could’ve squeezed another class between lunch and the keynote session, I would have.

Want to know what you missed? I have the highlights below.

Making Wi-Fi 6 a possibility

Aruba read the tea leaves on 802.11ax, and announced the 530 and 550 Series access points at Aruba Atmosphere 2019, giving attendees an inside look at the new 500s Series. Its focus on 802.11ax didn’t stop there. One of the classes I attended broke down the applications and possible infrastructure configurations of Wi-Fi 6.

This advanced antenna session helped me wrap my head around how exactly companies could create networks that best suit their environment. Additionally, it touched on what were realistic expectations for the network and how it would operate.

While the 510 Series is already available, Aruba expects to release the 530 and 550 Series later this year.

Not many companies or individuals have devices or the capabilities to run on this standard just yet, so it’s understandable Aruba is waiting for the market to catch up.

Introducing a new ClearPass application

As more companies turn toward the bring your own device model and introduce numerous smart devices and sensors to their networks, it can be difficult to survey and secure the environment. Aruba aims to fix this with ClearPass Device Insight, its new cloud-enabled and AI-powered ClearPass application.

Though it’s not a fit for every organization, ClearPass Device Insight can help companies control connected technologies more easily. For example, an MRI machine and an IV infusion pump, traditionally both classified on a network as generic Windows devices, won’t need to be lumped together in the same access policies anymore. ClearPass Device Insight will collect network traffic and, with this data, map IoT devices accordingly, providing full spectrum visibility to the network.

ClearPass Device Insight hasn’t been widely released, so I don’t have any initial feedback on the solution to share, but I’m expecting to see it in Aruba’s config tool soon.

Getting hands on in the Aruba Central Lab

My favorite opportunity at Aruba Atmosphere 2019 was the Aruba Central Lab. Working alongside Aruba developers and experts, I got hands on with demos of intricate, multi-device networks.

Through these mock networks, we explored the full functionality of the GUI, including how to set up and navigate networks faster and with fewer steps. The Aruba Central Lab also provided a great refresh on setting up the VLANs and devices, and how to do a config and apply it to groups. I typically work with demos running only one switch and access point, so it was gratifying to practice and work on these complex multi-device networks.

The labs, classes, and discussions ran from basic to advanced, and the only thing I wish Aruba Atmosphere 2019 had included was another Reddit-style Ask Me Anything, which I found very insightful last year. Hopefully it’s something they plan on bringing back for 2020.

Either way, I’m already looking forward to Aruba Atmosphere 2020 — there’s a reason it’s on our list of top tech conferences!

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