Afraid to Upgrade Because of Network Downtime?

If you’ve been to a hospital recently, you would see that most of the medical devices are connected to Wi-Fi. In fact, there are 15 to 20 medical devices per bed in 914,000 U.S. hospitals, according to the American Hospital Association. Now imagine it’s that time of the year when IT wants to upgrade to the latest operating system to improve its network service.


When do you think would be the best time to send out an email, saying “Dear employees, our network will be down for maintenance next Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.” Or if you think weekends don’t work, how about during the night? Do you think it’s feasible for hospitals to reboot the network in the middle of the night? Is there ever a convenient time—or I should say a not-so-catastrophic time—to disconnect the network for a couple of hours? Of course not.


How about manufacturing plants? Can they schedule maintenance windows? How much money do they lose when a production line or distribution center is idle? Or a university campus where students rely on Wi-Fi to cram at 4 a.m.? As people rely more on network-connected resources, it’s harder and harder for IT to schedule maintenance windows.


Why upgrade the Network OS anyway?

What happens if you don’t upgrade your operating system? For starters, you won’t be able to take advantage of the latest innovations that your network can offer. But not upgrading to the latest OS also creates network security risks. New security updates are constantly being developed, and by not upgrading to the new OS, you make your network more vulnerable to attacks as time goes on.


Eliminate Downtime During Network Upgrades

The new ArubaOS 8.1 introduces Live Upgrade so you can upgrade your entire operating system without any downtime.


Do you recall Controller Clustering, which we introduced in ArubaOS 8? With Controller Clustering, where we put multiple controllers in a cluster and we save all the user sessions are saved in all the controllers for a seamless experience? Do you also remember AirMatch, which provides dynamic RF optimization to all APs?


Live Upgrade combines both of these technologies to make sure that the network is always on while the OS is upgraded. We don’t update the entire system in one fell swoop. Instead, we use a rolling effect, so we start with upgrading one controller after moving the APs to the other controllers on the previous OS. Using the AP coverage overlap knowledge within AirMatch, we then selectively move a subset of AP’s to the upgraded controller, updating these AP’s without creating coverage holes. Once the first controller is updated, we move on to the next one. So we ensure the network users are always connected at all times throughout the upgrade.


We are so confident in our Live Update technology that we tested it at Aruba Atmosphere 2017, our largest customer event—twice already. We did it once in Nashville and once in Paris.


You can see it here in this video from Atmosphere in Nashville. There were 2,500 users on the network when our CTO Partha Narasimhan mentioned the live upgrade was taking place during his keynote, we saw a peak in users as they all wanted to make sure the network worked.


Unified wired and wireless policy  

ArubaOS 8.1 also introduced per-user tunnel node, which allows you to extend your wireless policies to your wired. This feature really helps to have one unified policy per user, so whether the user is connected via wireless or wired, they are treated the same and same firewall rules are applied.


Per User tunnel node


Many IoT and mobile devices that require power over Ethernet (PoE) and network access, such as security cameras, IP phones, payment card readers and medical devices, don’t have built-in security software, which creates a threat to the network. Per-user tunneled node can authenticate these devices using ClearPass, and tunnel the client traffic, harnessing the firewall policy capabilities that are set in the Aruba mobility controller.


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