Tag Archives: Private PSK

Xirrus Loses One, Wins One

One of the more curious WLAN players in the market, Xirrus is always interesting. The wireless array company certainly doesn’t sit still from a development perspective, and is usually among the first WLAN vendors to get major popular new features announced. I’ve met with Xirrus at Wireless Field Day 5 (their presentations here) and WFD 6, and followed their evolution through the years with a number of articles written about them..

Of late, Xirrus has a bit of a bad news/good news story to tell.

The bad news- they’ve been dropped from Gartner’s 2015 Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Magic Quadrant. Many of us in the WLAN industry have fairly low regard for Gartner’s current methodology in this space, but at the same time those in the market for business Wi-Fi frequently refer to the report for information on the pros and cons of industry players. I don’t agree with Xirrus’ exclusion, but it is what it is.

On the sunnier side, Xirrus has just announced a potential game-changing feature for customers struggling to do secure guest Wi-Fi. Called “EasyPass Personal”, it’s easy to mistakenly equate the new offering to the likes of Aerohive’s Private PSK. Xirrus differs significantly from just PPSK in that EasyPass Personal allows the guest/visitor to set up their own SSID and private pre-shared key. Yeah, read that again because it’s pretty wild.

easypasspersonal

See more on Xirrus’ web site here.

My thoughts on EasyPass Personal: I’ve not tried it, so can’t speak to the feature first-hand. My only real concern is whether the generation of personal guest networks in the air creates a lot of management overhead traffic (seems like it could, at first thought). But beyond that, I applaud Xirrus for bringing an innovative new option to the ridiculously challenging paradigm of secure guest access. Hotspot 2.0 is the promised “official” answer to secure guest Wi-Fi, but it’s both complicated and going nowhere. EasyPass Personal *seems* like a nice methodology, so I’d love to hear from Xirrus users who try it.

Xirrus Debuts EasyPass for Simplified WLAN Access

I say it often: any more, access points have become secondary players in the bigger Wi-Fi story. Sure, it’s fun to read about new APs- especially with Wave 2 fueling whopping performance claims- but what makes a WLAN system truly usable is all of the other stuff that vendors are adding to their WLAN solutions. APs either work well enough to keep a company in business, or they don’t. But the magic for Wi-Fi goes way past RF doings, as evidenced by Xirrus’ newly announced EasyPass.

easypass

EasyPass isn’t exactly revolutionary unto itself, but seeing Xirrus join others in the field doing similar means that wireless users are also getting the attention they deserve amidst the running hype of new hardware announcements. That’s a good thing- and Xirrus delivers it’s new onboarding solution without added appliances to manage.

Read more on EasyPass.

As I reviewed the PR materials on EasyPass, I was struck by one notion in particular: with no need for certificates,etc, Xirrus’ new feature set has a similar feel to Aerohive’s Private PSK. I’m a huge fan, and wish every vendor offered this for guest WLAN. I did query Xirrus to make sure I was on target for EasyPass’ secure onboarding.

From Bruce Miller, Xirrus VP of product marketing (I run in those circles, you know):

Yes, security for EasyPass Onboarding is achieved through what we call a User PSK with every user assigned a unique PSK. The number of devices per user  allowed can be controlled, e.g. 1, 2, 3, etc. This allows individual Wi-Fi security and control per user without captive portals and without the complexity of 802.1x/RADIUS, for example for BYOD users and headless devices. 802.1x security with a captive portal is supported as an option. EasyPass eliminates the agent / app downloads of other onboarding systems that add significant complexity to the process. We have seen that many organizations find their employees defaulting to use the non-secured guest network for access because of its relative simplicity.

Well done, Xirrus.