Meru Networks has brought the techniques of virtualization to its enterprise wireless LAN products, allowing an optimization of radio frequency (RF) resources that raises WLAN performance and reliability to wireline levels.
With the introduction of virtual port technology, the common pooled resources of virtual cells can be partitioned into multiple virtual WLANs, with a unique WLAN for each user device; the dedicated virtual WLAN moves with the user as long as his device is connected to the wireless network. As with wired switches, the network has full control over the resources and services allocated to a given device. Because the device is “sandboxed” in its own virtual WLAN, the user has a highly reliable wired-like experience, with full access to appropriate resources yet protected from disruptions by other users’ network demands. When devices are partitioned into their own dedicated virtual WLANs, the network can control client behavior in ways that proprietary client driver extensions and AP radio management technologies cannot – without adding any client software. As with virtual cell technology, virtual port technology is fully based on IEEE 802.11 standards.
With Meru’s virtual cell architecture, all client devices saw a single, common IEEE 802.11 Basic Service Set Identifier, or BSSID (the MAC, or Media Access Control, address in Wi-Fi networks). With the new virtual port technology, every client device has its own unique BSSID. This enables the partitioning of pooled RF resources into virtual ports, eliminating “lowest common denominator” contention among devices and enabling the enterprise to exercise precise control over the uplink and downlink performance of each device – similar to the per-port control in wired switches. This performance remains constant for a laptop, phone or other wireless device no matter which physical AP its packets are passing through.
Segregation of a client’s network access also means significant enhancements for WLAN security and privacy. Multicast traffic intended for one client cannot be overheard or altered by others. Similarly, one client’s bad behavior (e.g., the inadvertent launching of a denial-of-service attack) has no impact on other clients. And since network problems can be isolated to specific client links, debugging can be done on a client-by-client basis in real time, without disrupting the rest of the network.
Virtual port technology is included in Meru’s System Director 3.6 software, which is available now. Meru customers with active support contracts can upgrade to virtual port capability at no charge.