Aruba .11ac WLAN Serves as Modernization Catalyst at Vendée Département
French local government unit Vendée Département, leverages Aruba’s Gigabit Wi-Fi technologies, with strong security, streamlined onboarding and minimal IT administration, as a catalyst for modernizing systems throughout its jurisdiction.
After introducing innovations to infrastructure, such as installing fiber optics and provisioning area schools with digital equipment, the President of the General Council of the Vendée Département in the French Pays-de-la-Loire region, Bruno Retailleau, commissioned a modernization of government systems.
Nationally and internationally recognized in the areas of tourism, culture and sports, the 650,000-inhabitant Département hosts the quadrennial Vendée Globe around-the-world solo yacht race. Based in La Roche-sur-Yon, France, the Vendée General Council has a budget of more than US$760 million and employs 2800.
Rather than continuing to provide its governing committee members with lengthy paper documents, Retailleau sought to transition to online delivery. As the 21 members of the Permanent Commission and the 31 representatives of the Plenary Session were already equipped with iPads, an effective and secure high-speed wireless network was required.
With the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure in Vendée’s administrative buildings growing obsolete and unable to provide adequate coverage, the General Council’s IT department evaluated available technologies. Aruba Networks solution stood out.
Aruba .11ac Instant APs with ClientMatch™ Deliver Gigabit Wi-Fi
For its deployment, Vendée chose Aruba’s 802.11ac enabled Instant Access Points (IAPs), to deliver Gigabit speeds. By choosing Aruba .11ac Instant APs, Vendée ensures users move seamlessly throughout enabled locations due to Aruba’s integrated ClientMatch technology which dynamically optimizes Wi-Fi client device performance as users roam.
In addition to Instant APs, Vendée selected two Aruba mobility controllers to centralize control. The controllers were configured as active and passive for failover. For security, Aruba’s vendor-agnostic enterprise tool, the ClearPass Access Management System™ with Guest and Onboard modules, was selected for access control.
Instant APs Enable Fast and Easy Installation
As Aruba’s IAPs can be configured in either controller-managed or controller-less mode, Vendée selected controller-less mode for the initial deployment. In this mode, a single Aruba Instant AP automatically distributes the network configuration to other Instant APs. IAPs also include integrated security, RF management and performance optimization capabilities.
According to Vendée IT officials, this embedded-controller functionality made the IAP 225’s extremely easy to deploy. As a result, the network was quick to install.
Instant APs Extend WLAN to Remote Locations
Our new Aruba WLAN will provide substantial gains in productivity and a reduction in operating costs.
Marc Le Bris, CIO, General Council of the Vendée Département
After demonstrating the initial implementation to the Permanent Commission, a full deployment was approved.
For the complete implementation, a controller-managed WLAN was established. To enable Aruba IAPs to communicate with the centralized Aruba mobility controller, Vendée is using its existing VPN connections.
The new WLAN includes the Plenary Assembly auditorium, Senior Management offices and General Council office, as well as all meeting rooms in the Council’s buildings across approximately fifteen distant Département sites. In addition, Vendée employees can access the network remotely from their laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Aruba ClearPass Provides Strong Security While Streamlining Administration
For Vendee, Aruba’s ClearPass is an innovative solution with a unique range of features that has enabled the General Council’s IT department to reduce its administrative costs and ensure total control over all access to the wireless network.
With ClearPass, Vendée gains the robust security features of a wired network in a wireless environment. In a nutshell, ClearPass combines context-based policy management with next-generation AAA (Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting) services for secure connectivity.
Such capabilities assist with comprehensively managing network access policies, onboarding and managing devices securely and admitting guest users — all from a single platform.
ClearPass Guest Separates Internal Traffic from Visitor Access
Using ClearPass, Vendée separates internal traffic from guest connectivity. The internal network serves elected representatives and General Council employees, providing access to laptops, tablets and smartphones. Guest users benefit from Internet access via the Aruba captive portal, managed by the ClearPass system.
ClearPass Works with MS Active Directory to Authenticate Users
Vendée combines ClearPass with Microsoft Active Directory for device identification. ClearPass automatically recognizes all connected devices via their MAC address and allocates them access rights appropriate to their status.
In practice, each time a connection is detected, ClearPass queries the Active Directory, where authorized device credentials are configured based on each MAC address. Then, ClearPass either authenticates or refuses a connection based on device credentials.
ClearPass Onboard Helps Streamline User Access
Additionally, Vendée relies on ClearPass Onboard to simplify user access and management by automating the configuration and storage of device MAC addresses.
“Each user enters his or her login and password details once, when first connecting to the network,” explains Marc Le Bris, CIO of the General Council of the Vendée Département. “ClearPass sends a security certificate to the device, which allows the user to be identified automatically on each subsequent connection.”
“ClearPass not only reduces network administration tasks but also provides users with a very simple and secure connection,” he adds.
Aruba .11ac WLAN Improves Productivity and Reduces Costs
The benefits of Vendee’s new Gigabit Wi-Fi network abound. It starts with providing elected representatives with instant access to the documents they need and to the Internet.
“Given that each meeting of the plenary commission requires the consultation of approximately 100 reports, which previously were paper-based, we anticipate the new system will provide substantial gains in productivity for the elected representatives,” says Le Bris. “We also anticipate a reduction in operating costs due to the spectacular reduction in paper consumption.”
Key Aruba Benefits Include Flexibility and Scalability
Further, Vendee appreciates the flexibility and scalability of Aruba solutions. “For example, we could retain the first eight Aruba Instant APs in the final configuration,” Le Bris says.
“We are also planning a second deployment phase,” Le Bris adds. “It will extend the Wi-Fi network to five culturally-important Département sites. As with the first phase, we will again implement one SSID for employees and another for the general public.”
Leveraging an Aruba WLAN as a Modernization Catalyst
In addition to increasing productivity and reducing operating, Vendée’s new WLAN will significantly impact all services provided by the General Council.
“The Wi-Fi network will have a considerable effect on all aspects of the administration’s operations,” says Le Bris. “The production of digital documents for meetings will have an immediate and significant impact on all employees as the digital document workflow will feed into a new electronic document management solution. And, an electronic Signature Book system will also be deployed.”
“In this respect,” he continues, “our new WLAN has the effect of speeding up the optimization of procedures and modernization of all Département services. This is what the General Council was aiming to achieve.”
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