Interop NY: A look at the show's own BYOD arrangements

Collaboration between Cloudpath, Xirrus and F5 powers Interop NY's secure but open Wi-Fi

In recognition of the central importance of BYOD issues to this year's Interop NY conference, organizers provided a specially configured Wi-Fi network as a demonstration of one possible solution.

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The system, provided by Cloudpath Networks, Xirrus and F5, features dual SSIDs -- one open network is used to register devices and provide them with an authentication app, allowing them to connect to the secured main network, which uses WPA2 Enterprise protection.

Compared to alternate solutions like standard WPA2 security or open networks with forced redirects to captive portals, this type of BYOD system has advantages, said Cloudpath founder Kevin Koster.

"The drawback to WPA2 Enterprise has always been the initial onboarding -- it takes configuration to get [users] on the network," he said.

However, the captive portal system requires users to manually sign in every time they connect -- which makes for a poor user experience, particularly for mobile device owners just hopping online to check their email.

Cloudpath was selected to run the BYOD demonstration after winning the prize for best wireless or mobile company at Interop Las Vegas this summer.

Along with Cloudpath's authentication system, the Interop NY setup uses Xirrus hardware to power the network, as well as F5's firewall to enforce access limitations.

According to Koster, the system installed at Interop NY splits the difference -- while it requires a sign-up process, it's a one-time activation, and users don't need to be provided with any credential information in order to get a constant connection.

"Whether it's in an enterprise or whether it's here in a public forum, there are two keys to providing wireless connectivity," Koster said. "You want the connectivity to be simple ... and at the same time, you want to do it without compromising on security."

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.