Tackling network management with Aruba’s three-point stance
When the Denver Broncos rushed their way to victory at the 2016 Superbowl, it was not the only victory secured that February evening in San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium. Fans attending the 50th annual Superbowl had cleared out the stadium’s on-site merchandise store which could be counted as a victory in itself, but what if further sales could be secured from those attendees who hadn’t able to make a purchase before the store had been cleared of inventory?
Not long after the store’s supplies ran dry, every single person in the stadium who had connected their personal device to the stadium’s free Wi-Fi received a push notification directing them to an online merch store, and online sales figures rocketed.
An impressive feat, but the technology that enabled this achievement had not been sitting dormant waiting to make its play like a field goal kicker on the bench, but was working quietly in the background to make the Superbowl experience seamless for everyone in attendance. From the moment fans entered the stadium and connected their devices to the free Wi-Fi, the network had been collecting valuable data, tracking punters movements and even directing to them their seats and enabling them to order refreshments once seated.
Though certainly impressive, all of this probably sounds very difficult to manage. On the contrary, given the right expertise and a package that can not only achieve the same results, but can deliver more to a business than selling hotdogs and tracking visitor behaviour, then an organisation can entice customers, increase convenience for staff and visitors, drive greater revenue and become more efficient in the ways its network operates.
Aruba understands exactly how this can be managed end-to-end, from optimizing the IT infrastructure to support such innovations, to providing these ground-breaking network capabilities and managing the devices that connect to the network.
Just like a stadium, a reliable infrastructure requires a solid foundation. Aruba is built around a layered approach using hardware as the foundation, with additional layers of security and management software completing the framework.
Digitization and location services are at the forefront of every client’s requirements and creating the framework to enable this first entails the implementation of Beacons, the Bluetooth based hardware that optimizes the physical site’s network for seamless communication with wireless personal devices.
Most commonly used in the retail and hospitality sectors, Beacons are positioned around sites such as shopping malls or hotel complexes and guarantee that each connected device stays remains connected to the network and does not drop off while the user is present within the network area.
When logging onto the Wi-Fi, each user is prompted to download an app designed to benefit both the user and the operator. In the case of the shopping mall, the app can target the user with exclusive offers. Beacons located around the site can detect where each individual is within the mall, and when passing a coffee shop, a push notification can be triggered on the user’s device offering them 10% off any order from that very coffee shop.
Navigation features are also included in the app, helping the user to find specific shops with turn-by-turn directions much like the satellite navigation that user might have used on their journey to the mall.
So, that’s all very compelling from the consumer perspective, and sure, it can bring benefits to retailers in terms of offers targeted as passing shoppers, but what other benefits are there for the operator? The answer is data, and plenty of it. Personal data such as name, gender, age and email address can be collected from the user when they first connect to the network, but operators can also track users around the site allowing granular analysis of shopping behaviours.
Imagine if a mall operator could determine where the most footfall takes place within its mall to help them determine unit rental rates, or which areas of the site see the most traffic at specific times of day, allowing them to take an intelligent approach to utilizing certain spaces at specific times to drive additional revenue? By implementing Aruba’s solution that incorporates Beacons and our own Meridian app that can be customized and branded for each client, these concepts become a reality, and one that is easy to manage.
Traditionally, businesses providing wireless networks would have had to manually create a different network for each type of user, with users on different devices requiring different access levels to different parts of the business.
When it comes to down the devices used by each individual, there’s a multitude of possible devices, so for a business with various onsite networks and numerous people requiring access to different areas on these networks on devices that behave differently to one another, a simplified management solution is required. Aruba’s platform automates this entire process for businesses, recognizing each device type as the user initiates the connection between the device and the network and managing each individual connection without any human input required.
The network’s access points will autonomously recognise the level of service required for each device to ensure that the bandwidth is managed effectively. For example, an employee who frequently makes video calls can be allocated a set of credentials that the network will recognize when they connect, therefore during the video call, the appropriate amount of bandwidth will be allocated to that individual’s device, meaning a visitor on the same network can’t disrupt the video call by using up precious bandwidth for their personal requirements.
When providing guests with Wi-Fi, or even employees who choose to use their own personal devices rather than devices provided by the business, security is an obvious concern. Aruba includes a layer of Clearpass software that sits on each of the network’s domains and analysis every network connection, ensuring that all devices are compliant with company policy in terms of devices having the correct security certificates and antivirus protection.
Providing a reliable and accessible network for staff and guests may well be an expectation every business is obliged to fulfil, but managing that network is a responsibility that can be costly and time consuming. Applying a layered approach and adopting a managed service network solution that automates management, security and network allocation will allow an enterprise to take its mind of IT troubles and keep its eye on the ball in other aspects of the business.