Aruba ClearPass Named a Leader in Gartner’s 2014 Network Access Control QuadrantJanuary 17, 2014 Leave your thoughts
Further marking the evolution of Aruba Networks from a company focused primarily on wireless LAN to a frontrunner in the network management and mobility sphere, their ClearPass access management solution has earned a top spot in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for Network Access Control (NAC).
Taming the BYOD beast with NAC
It seems that over the past year or so, trends in enterprise Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD), and how to best manage them, have been a perpetual point of debate both throughout the pages of this blog as well as across network community discourse – and for good reason. Like a modern day Hydra, the swift growth of BYOD has been the multi-headed monster which has all but forced the networking world to rethink traditional enterprise WiFi architectures.
Causing no-end of problems for IT staff, the influx of employee-owned devices, combined with a flippant approach by users with regards to corporate policies, has led to a potentially dangerous loss of visibility and control. However, nobody has ever suggested that this was not a battle worth winning; after all, the benefits, savings, and convenience of BYOD for employer and employee alike are in little doubt.
Affecting not only devices and applications, BYOD can have a detrimental impact upon the network itself. The innovation of integrated tools, such as Aruba ClearPass, which was first released in February 2012, can help the enterprise secure and manage mobility, whilst reaping the rewards of bring-your-own-device without having to compromise the protection of employee or corporate data.
Why is Network Access Control so important to enterprise BYOD?
Network Access Control (NAC) helps businesses to control the usage of their networks by enforcing policies that dictate which devices and which users can gain access. Digging slightly deeper, IT administrators are able to employ NAC systems to determine the various levels of access afforded to a user based on their credentials – these will ultimately determine whether a user is blocked, granted partial access, or full access to the network.
Occupying the space alongside Cisco Systems and ForeScout Technologies, Aruba Networks have made an important progression from ‘visionary’ to ‘leader’ within the network and guest access niche. Gartner attributes their advancement to the “overall strong growth of (Aruba) ClearPass and a demonstrated ability to win large opportunities.” The report, published in December, 2014, goes on to state that the ClearPass solution is capable of easing BYOD implementations as it does not require any external certificate authority, which enables administrators to create and revoke unique credentials on user devices.
Adding a further layer of kudos to the ClearPass package is its highly customisable architecture. This is particularly evident within the guest access functionalities, where custom web-portals can be created to give operators and guests a targeted ‘brand experience’. There are also integrated marketing and advertising opportunities, ideal for the hospitality and retail sectors, within the ‘advanced content delivery system’. On the administration side, ClearPass enables users to create fully customisable guest access reports for enhanced auditing and compliance.
Room for Improvement?
Keeping ClearPass from claiming top-spot in the NAC quadrant (currently occupied by rivals Cisco and their ISE NAC agent) is what Gartner term the ‘breadth of solution’ – or lack thereof. So what might Aruba do to remedy this?
The current version of ClearPass combines the previously separate guest access control module, Aruba Amigopod, with the existing employee access feature set. This move has expanded the capabilities of the ClearPass solution, allowing IT to enforce application specific policies on mobile devices whilst providing health and posture checks to ensure that potentially dangerous users cannot gain access.
In addition, Aruba Networks have also released what they are calling ‘Workspace’, another extension to the ClearPass access management suite through which users are able to access a portal where approved apps and devices can be found. With Aruba’s Workspace application, Mobile Application Management (MAM), Mobile Device Management (MDM), and Network Access Management (NAM), are all delivered in one integrated, ‘context aware’ solution.
The upcoming release of ClearPass version 6.3 will surely herald some significant improvements for secure access control, particularly in terms of the speed and efficiency of the product. And, although sheer speculation at this stage, the simplicity and knock-on advantages (with regards to marketing, social validation and brand awareness) of employing social media sites as a conduit for guest login management would certainly be a difficult opportunity to overlook.
To find out more about Aruba ClearPass, Network and Guest Access or our BYOD Solutions, contact Ensign on 01929 556 553 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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