Arraya Insights | April 13, 2020
Cisco’s OpenRoaming wireless solution got significantly more, for lack of a better word, open last month. In fact, OpenRoaming is now so open, it can no longer even be called a Cisco solution. In mid-March, the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) announced plans to assume control over OpenRoaming, elevating it to a global wireless standard. The alliance’s decision should give OpenRoaming a place in conversations at Cisco shops and non-Cisco shops alike. So, let’s clear up what the solution is and get a better idea of the opportunity the WBA’s move presents.
OpenRoaming’s role in a modern workplace
Plenty of technologies seek to lay claim to security and simplicity as mission statements and so in that regard OpenRoaming is not unique. The platform’s ability to deliver on those objectives, however, is what set it apart – and drew the WBA’s attention. Adhering to standards laid out by the WBA as well as the Wi-Fi Alliance, OpenRoaming automatically connects users to a wireless network and allows them to move seamlessly and safely from one network to another. More notably, they can do so without having to authenticate their identity repeatedly, across multiple login portals, as they go.
This unencumbered access is possible because OpenRoaming serves as a kind of wireless connective tissue between some of the industry’s most trusted access providers (Boingo, Cisco, GlobalReach, Intel, etc.). Essentially, these organizations have agreed to allow free and open travel between their networks. By moving under the stewardship of the WBA, OpenRoaming can achieve greater neutrality as well as device and technological flexibility.
Identity authentication is still occurring, but it takes place automatically, using information such as device type, cloud ID or some other identifier. OpenRoaming further balances out that freedom by layering on enterprise grade security standards, protocols and solutions. Users get flexibility. IT gets peace of mind knowing it isn’t coming in the form of an easily-exploitable backdoor.
Who could benefit from OpenRoaming?
Now let’s consider a few non-industry specific scenarios where the WBA’s recent OpenRoaming’s expansion could make the most sense.
- Supporting next generation wireless. Wi-Fi 6 is set to become the present for wireless connectivity. As adoption increases, the generation of mission-critical, bandwidth-hungry applications those technologies give rise to will need consistent, reliable access to continue delivering value.
- Enabling the spread of IoT. Many organizations are seeing every piece of their work environments become connected. Some of these devices, like sensors, are stationary. Others, like autonomous vehicles, are very much not. Organizations will need to ensure all connected devices are able to remain connected, whether they’re locked in place or are always on the go.
- Increasing onsite wireless usage. For some, one access portal can be enough to deter users from connecting to a wireless network. Multiple portals only drive those usage statistics lower. By simplifying both initial sign in (think: at a large event venue) and continued access – without cutting essential security – organizations can ensure their wireless solutions was worth the investment.
- Gaining greater insight into trends, user habits. On the topic of statistics, organizations can’t improve what they can’t measure. Pairing OpenRoaming with a solution like Cisco’s DNA Spaces can increase the volume of metrics available to network admins. That data can in turn be used to drive improvements across the network.
- Reduce operational expenses. Disjointed Wi-Fi environments may lead to users leaning more heavily on cellular data as they search for consistency. It’s likely the expense of that will find its way back to the organization in one form or another. By providing a more seamless Wi-Fi experience, organizations can spare themselves from covering expensive cellular data bills.
Next Steps: Securely opening your own organization’s connectivity options
Want to learn more about how solutions like OpenRoaming can help your organization deliver wireless that is more reliable, increase user satisfaction and, ultimately, drive better business outcomes? Arraya’s network team can help. Our in-house experts can help your organization take stock of its current needs and capabilities, project long term goals, and architect a solution informed by all three. You can start a dialogue with our team by visiting https://www.arrayasolutions.com/contact-us/.
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