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The pooling of access points is only the first step in Wireless LAN virtualization. The greatest gains come from partitioning that pool, allocating a pool's resources into segments tailored to individual needs. The Virtual Port is a dedicated network connection for each client device. It gives clients and applications all the performance, reliability and security that they expect from Ethernet, but adds the mobility of wireless and the flexibility of virtualization.
Because every device gets its own Virtual Port, each network connection is private. As in switched Ethernet, every client is assigned its own dedicated link to the network to ensure quality-of-service. Unlike Ethernet, the Virtual Port is customized to each device's requirements. Bandwidth can be allocated among clients at will, as can security and QoS parameters. Each client gets exactly the resources it needs.
The Virtual Port gives the network a powerful way to control client behavior with no proprietary client-side extensions or software. Because the network controls which physical access point clients connect and allocates resources between Virtual Ports, it actually requires less client-side intelligence than microcell networks. Instead of expecting clients to adapt to suit the network, the Virtual Port adapts to suit each client.
Like virtual machines that run on servers or inside Web browsers, the Virtual Port offers an extra line of security. Each device is confined within its own virtual network, with access rights set to match the device's capability and the user's role. Per-user firewalls also let access rights be customized, protecting the network from privilege escalation and insider threats.
Device-level rate negotiation
Because there is only one client per Virtual Port, that client device can transmit at its own maximum rate. The Meru controller divides the network's total capacity using Airtime Fairness, which means exactly what it says. Each client gets an equal share of the network's airtime. Just as server virtualization simplifies support for legacy applications or operating systems, the Virtual Port simplifies support for legacy clients and ensures that they don't slow down other users.