Looking Forward to Aruba Airheads Conference

By Keith Parsons, Contributor
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Next week there will be a gathering of "Airheads" – a colloquial term for folks interested in Wireless LANs. Specifically those who work with Aruba Networks Wi-Fi gear.


I've been around the WLAN industry for well over a decade, and find it quite refreshing to see how Aruba has built of community of like-minded individuals, and support them getting together, learning, playing, and improving their skillsets.


Why would someone want to go to Las Vegas and hang out with other Wireless LAN Professionals? (OK, for the audience that is reading this blog, it is a question that doesn't need to be even asked…)



There are three full-day course offerings – each one repeated on Tuesday before the start of the conference, and again on Thursday. Each of these is a training course by its own right. But they come as part of the conference.


AirWave Bootcamp will be taught by a senior technical instructor, Leo Banville and will cram as much hands-on labs and materials as one can take in a one-day class. For those who haven't yet tried AirWave, it is the premier Wireless Network Management System available in our industry today. It has deep roots in managing multiple vendor installs, and is moving ever tighter with Aruba OS integration.


ClearPass Fundamentals will cover the basics of Aruba's solution for device on-boarding and authentication – tying all of it in with Aruba's policy enforcement. With more and more BYOD joining your Wireless Network – you'll need this type of solution. Hands-on from experts is a great way to jump into this technology.


WLAN Fundamentals is taught by a friend of mine, and a fellow CWNE, Kimberly Graves. Kimberly has been in the WLAN industry for a very long time, and is not only an expert in Aruba technology, (she developed many of the courses and certification exams) – she is a fantastic presenter and really knows her stuff when it comes to the "How's", and "Why's" of 802.11 networking. In years past we developed and taught a Wireless LAN Security Assessment Toolkit course together. OK, it was a fancy name for WLAN Penetration Testing – but I've had the privilege to see Kimberly teach many times. If you get a chance please try to get into one of her sessions.


Some have probably wondered why Aruba would put a WLAN Fundamentals so prominent in their time slots. The reason is based on some cold, hard, facts about many who make their living at Wi-Fi. That is, many people got into this industry from the Route/Switch side of the world, or come from the RF side of Cellular companies. Many never received a proper education on how 802.11 really works. I strongly suggest anyone who calls himself or herself a Wireless LAN Professional should have a well-grounded understanding of WLAN Fundamentals!


The full-day sessions listed above are merely a small portion of the education available over this conference. In addition, there are many more shorter sessions covering a wide range of topics of concern to those who work with Wireless LANs. Design, troubleshooting, integration services, and new hardware and software from Aruba. There will be sessions by WLAN Rock Stars like Peter Thornycroft and Paul DeBeasi.



In addition, there will be food, parties, socializing with peers – times where you can show off you have soft-skills as well as technical ones!


During the conference you'll be able to follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #airheadsconf. If you can't make it to this year's event. Be sure to add it to your calendar for next year!