Denver Museum of Nature & Science – ClearPass

Aruba ClearPass ensures connectivity for 1.4 million museum visitors

When any of Stan Rehfuss’ 1.4 million annual guests visits his organization, they’re treated to robust Wi-Fi access and mobility-enabled exhibits throughout the 716,000 sq. ft. facility.

“During our latest expansion, we determined it was time to update our WLAN,” says Rehfuss, Technology Systems Manager for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. “We needed to provide secure Wi-Fi to visitors and contractors as well as our staff and interactive exhibits.”

Exceptional Guest Wi-Fi, Staff Mobility & More

To outfit its newest wing, plus the remainder of its public, classroom and research spaces, the Museum investigated various Wi-Fi options. Aruba Networks, an HP company, offered the most attractive solution.

“Aruba’s solution was robust, flexible and easier to manage,” Rehfuss says. “As a public entity with enterprise needs and a lean IT staff, management efficiencies and cost-effective scalability are important to us.”

ClearPass Centralizes Control of 5-Star WLAN Solution

With the assistance of local partner Accuvant, the Museum selected various Aruba technologies such as vendor-agnostic ClearPass Policy Manager, Onboard and Guest. Using ClearPass, the Museum gains efficient network access control across its multivendor environment while simultaneously supplying exceptional guest and staff mobility.

The Museum also adopted Aruba’s indoor and outdoor access points (APs) and 7200 Series Mobility Controllers. Additionally, it deployed another multivendor network management tool, Aruba’s AirWave, for Wi-Fi optimization.

Standardizing on 802.11ac

With Aruba’s ClearPass, we’re efficiently and effectively providing robust, secure access for all.
Stan Rehfuss, Technology Systems Manager for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Most recently, the Museum began standardizing on Gigabit Wi-Fi by adding 802.11ac-enabled equipment in key locations, including installing the new outdoor AP-277 to supply cost-effective access for staff and guests.

“Deploying the AP-277 gave our staff tablet-based capabilities for checking in summer camp attendees,” Rehfuss says. “Now, parents don’t even need to leave their cars, smoothing drop-offs and improving experiences. Plus it was fast and easy to install.”

ClearPass Boosts Security, Streamlines Control

To safeguard its multivendor wireless and wired environment, the Museum values ClearPass for complete access control in a mobile world, Rehfuss says. ClearPass combines ultra-scalable, next-generation AAA (Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting) services with a policy engine that leverages contextual data based on user roles, device types, app usage and location – all from a single platform.

“For security, our previous system required multiple SSIDs with separate VLANs behind each of them,” Rehfuss says. “Because we host many events every year, from corporate meetings to weddings, we also frequently added ad-hoc SSIDs.”

“As a result, we had SSID soup,” he continues. “It was confusing and time-consuming to manage. With ClearPass, that’s all solved because policies are centralized and streamlined, eliminating the need for multiple SSIDs”

Supporting BYOD and interactive exhibits

At the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

According to Rehfuss, ClearPass has significantly improved Wi-Fi security. With ClearPass Policy Manager, it’s now a breeze to support the Museum’s multiple types of access needs, including employee BYOD and exhibit-based devices, by applying role-based credentials.

“Our employee mobility is completely BYOD,” explains Rehfuss. “ClearPass Onboard enables staff members to authenticate their own devices. Then, Policy Manager automatically determines the appropriate level of access.”

It’s a similar story for other types of computing, wireless or wired. “For instance, our exhibits increasingly use mobile devices for interactivity,” Rehfuss says. “With ClearPass, we set policies for each type of use and the tool handles the rest. It’s that simple.”

Role-based Access Extended to Guests

The Museum also relies on ClearPass to make external access privileges as easy to manage as internal credentials. ClearPass Guest gives Museum visitors and contractors rich, secure guest access that is automatically separated from internal traffic.

“Previously, we only offered guest access to contractor groups, like employees from other museums,” Rehfuss says. “Such groups frequently come to our site to assist with their traveling exhibits.”

“Now, we provide secure connectivity to individual contractors,” he adds, as ClearPass automates role-based guest policy enforcement and extends it to all types of contractor devices without adding to the Museum’s management overhead.

Visitors sign on with ease

ClearPass also furnishes the industry’s only secure, enterprise-grade encryption method for public guest access, enabling the Museum to extend access to visitors with confidence. The public guest portal can easily be modified to support the large number of events held at the museum.

“Last year alone, the Museum served more than 1.3 million visitors onsite, and today’s museum visitors expect guest Wi-Fi,” says Rehfuss.

Combining ClearPass With AirWave Optimizes Wi-Fi

For maintaining overall WLAN health, the Museum also appreciates the seamless integration of ClearPass and AirWave. Like ClearPass, AirWave unifies multivendor network management by lending extraordinary visibility into each AP on the network.

Together, the solutions also provide speedy issue diagnosis and troubleshooting. “When we’re investigating device authentication issues, we begin with the ClearPass Access Tracker,” explains Rehfuss.

“From there, we can automatically launch AirWave to help drill down to a problem’s source,” he adds. “Such granular troubleshooting was non-existent, before.”

Enterprise Scalability Provides for Today and Tomorrow

Moving forward, the Museum is considering ways to further tap Aruba’s enterprise scalability. This could include adopting mobile engagement options, such as Aruba’s Meridian Mobile App Platform and Aruba Beacons. These technologies can augment visitor services, offer turn-by-turn directions to amenities and contribute proximity-aware interactivity.

“With proximity awareness, we could present interactive features to guests as they encounter an exhibit,” says Rehfuss. “Also, by combining traffic flow analytics and wayfinding technologies, we could guide visitors to under-utilized areas of the Museum in real-time.”

#GenMobile Wi-Fi + ClearPass = Multiple Rewards

Overall, Wi-Fi modernization has proven critical for supplying pervasive mobility and amenity promotion to the Museum’s increasingly #GenMobile constituencies. #GenMobile are today’s new breed of tech-savvy mobile device users.

Powering science on a sphere

According to Rehfuss, just one #GenMobile example is an exhibit the Museum calls Science on a Sphere. “Docents use a tablet, secured using ClearPass, to manage the exhibit,” Rehfuss says. “This makes reliable, secure Wi-Fi is essential to fully engaging the public.”

Branding and promotions a breeze

Even exhibit marketing gets a boost with the advanced services built into ClearPass. The customizable Guest portal provides for organizational branding and supports external services. This enables the easy inclusion of exhibit promotions, event information, special offers, multimedia options and other content.

Uninterrupted Experiences, Wherever Users Roam

Today, the Museum’s staff, contractors and visitors enjoy uninterrupted, high-quality, secure mobile experiences wherever they work or roam. And, it’s all possible without added burdens to the organization’s IT staff.

“Whether its exhibits, research, events or day-to-day operations, we’re becoming more dependent on wireless connectivity,” Rehfuss says. “With Aruba and ClearPass, we can efficiently and effectively ensure it’s all seamless to our mobile users.”