Exclusive: Inside Interop's BYOD WiFi Network [VIDEO]

How many access points does it take to provide WiFi for One million square feet of space and over 10,000 attendees?

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 7, 2013
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LAS VEGAS - Interop is one of the world's largest networking events, with over 300 exhibitors and nearly one million square feet of space. And everyone there, with their 10,000 or so wireless devices, needs to stay connected to the Internet.

Keeping the WiFi network up is a job that rests on the broad shoulders of one man, Mike Rydalch, principal technologist at WiFi vendor Xirrus.

In an exclusive video interview with Enterprise Networking Planet, Rydalch takes us behind the scenes of the InteropNet and WiFi network that will make him either a hero or a zero by the end of the week.

BYOD

In a new initiative for the Interop 2013 WiFi network, Xirrus is providing users with an optional BYOD onboarding experience.

Users first log into an onboarding access point to create validated access. Validation can be done with a Google, LinkedIn, or Facebook login or an email address.

Once the user is onboarded, an EAP-TLS connection becomes available, providing an SSL certificate on both the server and client sides. In this scenario, there are no shared keys, and therefore no Man-in-the-Middle sniffing attacks.

Interop 2013's WiFi Network

The actual WiFi network consists of 26 Xirrus XR-4830 arrays running a Linux-based operating system at its core.

"We're right at one million square feet of coverage with the 26 arrays," Rydalch said.

On the first day of Interop 2013's WiFi network availability, during which only a limited number of people were onsite in workshop sessions, 1,632 unique devices connected to the network. At the peak of the network load this week, Rydalch expects as many as 13,000 unique devices to attach to the network.

From a security perspective, the Xirrus network has threat detection capabilities. Rogue access points can be detected and steps taken to mitigate the risk. Rydalch was assisted by a pair of IT techs to deploy the 26 arrays across the Interop conference. The process took approximately 8 hours.

Rydalch is the only person tasked with managing the ongoing WiFi network, which will serve thousands of attendees over the course of this week. His work could earn him compliments or curses, depending on how the week goes.

"You can go from hero to zero in a millisecond," Rydalch said.

Watch the full video with Mike Rydalch below:

 

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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