December 02, 2010

Does my wireless controller need a firewall?

If I had a dime for every time I’m asked this question, I would be stuck with a pocket full of dimes. In our evolving world of technology, certain trends remain while others frequently change. The Wireless LAN industry has seen a number of changes in the past few years; Fat APs changed to Thin APs, and Thin APs are changing to become intelligent Fit APs. Some vendors that promoted centralized traffic forwarding are now promoting distributed forwarding. Yet some vendors like Enterasys can offer hybrid operation to satisfy every need.

As the architecture debate continues to be battled at the customer doorstep, the everlasting constant has been wireless security.

When asked this firewall question, I challenge the inquirer to describe the firewall deployment on their wired access layer. The answer, 99.9% of the time, is that a firewall exists at the perimeter of their network. The question then illuminates: if you are without a firewall on your wired access layer, why would you require one for the wireless access layer?

While there is room for debate, there are alternatives to the costly firewall you are considering with your wireless controller purchase. For example, role-based controls that combine hybrid traffic forwarding and security rules offer combined security and efficiency while saving capital investment and operational costs. When applied at the access point, the role-based controls offer a compelling deployment model as user and device control is enforced at the point of ingress with complete flexibility.

If only there was a way to enforce role-based controls across an integrated wired and wireless network…now that would be worth more than a pocket full of dimes!

About The Contributor:
Scott FergusonWireless Product Marketing Manager

Scott Ferguson is a Product Marketing Manager at Extreme Networks with 20+ years of domestic and international experience in the computer and data communications industry. He has held numerous senior level positions in engineering, product management, and product marketing for start-ups, fortune 500 companies, and business turnarounds in both carrier and enterprise focused businesses. Scott is an industry leader driving hardware and software products to financial success and market recognition, in: security, management systems, network infrastructure, and applications. Scott has held senior level positions at companies that include Apani Networks, Avaya, Colubris Networks, Nortel Networks, and Xyplex Networks. Scott has also been a consultant for companies helping them achieve their business goals through his strategic / business planning, new product introduction, implementation, and marketing skills.

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