Ensuring that all wireless clients get the service levels they need is a major challenge, especially when smartphones, tablets and other devices control their own connectivity and roaming decisions on the network.
ClientMatch® is a RF management technology developed by Aruba Networks that puts the connectivity and roaming control back into the wireless solution. The idea behind this is that the wireless solution will have a much better idea of which access point is the most appropriate client, based on the information the Access Points are constantly collecting. This allows the controller (or Instant Controller) to make these decisions about what to do with a client in real time, which drastically increases performance of a wireless network.
The old adage of “one bad apple spoils the bunch” is especially true in wireless networking, particularly now with the greater than gigabit speeds of 802.11AC. Once attached to an AP, clients tend to stay attached even when the user begins to walk away from the AP and the device signal weakens. When these devices do not roam to a new access point, it drags down the throughput of everyone else on the access point they are “stuck” to.
We call these devices “sticky clients,” and a few of them can even bring modern wireless networks to their knees if they do not know how to handle these clients. The process of moving clients to more appropriate AP’s within a network is called Client Steering.
In addition to addressing the problem of sticky clients, ClientMatch® also helps devices connect to the best available radio. Let’s say a dual-band client attempts to connect to a 2.4GHz radio on an access point with a 20MHz channel, ClientMatch® will steer that client to an avaiable 40MHz channel on a 5GHz radio – provided there is one in the client’s range with good signal strength. This allows the wireless system to take full advantage of the client’s capabilities to essentially double its throughput by forcing it to connect to the correct radio. This feature within ClientMatch® is called Band Steering.
Dynamic Load Balancing
Whether we are talking about Band Steering or Client Steering, Aruba always takes the Access Point Load into account when making these calculations. Dynamic Load Balancing addresses client density problems by dynamically distributing clients across available AP’s and Channels, ensuring that individual APs aren’t overloaded and client performance is continually maximized. This is a very important feature in client dense environments like auditoriums.
An analogy I like to use to explain all of this is the highway analogy. A true BYOD network will have a diverse set of devices that all need access, similar to a highway and its diverse set of cars and drivers. One or two slow drivers can cause serious delays in your morning commute, as all of the traffic behind them begins to pile up. However, simply steering these “slow drivers” to the correct lane will increase the total speed of the highway (user experience) immensely.
ClientMatch® is included in both Instant and Controller deployments. It is a base, unlicensed feature of the Aruba Operating System. It is available as part of AOS 6.3 and higher. For more information download this tech brief.