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Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need an Aspen appliance?

The Aspen product suite manages IP broadband connections and maintains connectivity assurances for mission critical application environment needs. The product provides 99.999% voice-data availability and intelligent application and policy based bandwidth aggregation.

Do I need special hardware or software to run it?

No, the Aspen 365 is easily installed out of the shipping box directly onto the network, no software packages to install for basic implementation. It's simple to administer and can be configured by a Web browser. Simply use Aspen Network's Quick Install feature.

What is Natural ISP/WAN Switching?

Any unrecognized application flows are transparently bridged to their natural next-hop destination, for both inbound and outbound traffic. Only application flows that are user defined will be moved to other ISP links during load balancing/bandwidth aggregation.

What is the Aspen N2000?

The Aspen N2000 is an enterprise HQ class product that has comprehensive flow management for all classes of enterprise applications, including hosted Web servers and large-scale branch office VPNs using IPSEC tunnels. The N2000 can provide application assurance over a maximum of 8 WAN/ISP links.

What is the Aspen 365-Branch?

The Aspen 365-Branch is used at branch offices or at standalone smaller offices. It handles a maximum of 4 WAN/ISP links. For site to site VPN applications it is always used in conjunction with at least one Aspen N2000 HQ class device acting as a master-controller for the entire branch office VPN tunnel optimization system

What is the Aspen 365-VoIP?

The Aspen 365-VoIP is a premises based device managed by a partnering hosted VoIP service provider to enable VoIP application assurance and optimum quality of service using a diversity of broadband Internet links.

What is the Aspen 365-MTU?

Hotels with only a single high speed link often find that P2P traffic hogs so much bandwidth that other applications are slowed down. The Aspen 365-MTU is a purpose built appliance for hotels, large hot spots, and business MTU applications. It includes special software for controlling P2P traffic in these environments in the most optimal way. P2P will not be blocked, but will not slow down other premium applications such as corporate VPN traffic from paying guests.

Where does the Aspen device typically fit in an enterprise LAN?

Typically our device installs in between the firewall and one or more WAN routers or ISP modems.

Will I need to change my current network configuration prior to an Aspen install?

No, the Aspen 365 has a transparent Ethernet switch personality that allows it to be inserted into your network without any network configuration changes. This means your existing routers, firewalls and various IP servers, including DNS servers, do not need any re-configuration. Aspen also features a hardware wire-mode that allows risk-free inserts while powered off.

Do I need multiple broadband connects and do they have to be the same type?

No. The Aspen appliance is also used as a converged application-assurance solution for VoIP traffic when it shares a single Internet link with bursty data traffic. However to fully utilize the various features the Aspen 365 provides, it is highly recommended to have at least 2 ISP links, one being for basic broadband backup. The ISP links can be a mix of T1, DSL, Cable, Wireless, etc.

Do I need static IP addresses?

At least one static IP address is needed from each ISP link in most user configurations. There is a user configuration where static IP addresses aren't needed, but it is restricted to outbound traffic load balancing and bandwidth management only with no servers hosted on premises. If VPN gateways for remote access are present a static IP is also required per ISP.

While monitoring broadband connectivity, will Aspen365 add to current network traffic?

Since the Aspen has an Ethernet switch personality, its software is designed to monitor by passive learning and observation of application traffic as much as possible. The Aspen unit intelligently monitors traffic and only sends active network probes during moments of network silence. The Aspen appliance adds a minimal amount of network traffic.

Does Aspen's failure and Internet instability detection depend on Ping packets?

No, as mentioned above much smarter algorithms are used to reliably detect various errors and failures. Aspen has a pending patent for reliable ISP cloud state detection. It is also well known that PINGs configured to a small set of IP addresses are a very unreliable method for detecting the state of a provider's network.

While monitoring VoIP connectivity, will Aspen365 add to current network traffic?

No. The Aspen 365 observes and tracks state of all SIP and RTP VoIP traffic flowing in/out of the box. By tracking SIP status, including SIP ACKs, the Aspen can detect connectivity problems within milliseconds and take corrective action.

Is Aspen's SIP/RTP implementation certified?

Yes. Aspen is fully certified as a SIP Session Border Controller with Broadsoft.

Does Aspen also support MGCP and H.323 for VoIP Assurance?

Yes.

What happens if the Aspen unit loses power?

The Aspen product suite includes an integrated software-hardware feature called Wire Mode. If the box loses power or under various failure modes, it can automatically become a pass through Ethernet cable. Since existing enterprise firewalls are typically configured to a single outbound WAN router, all natural WAN traffic continues as normal, as if the Aspen unit were not even present.

How easy is it to update the software on the Aspen unit?

It's simple. The software update can be downloaded by running a single user command. The update is downloaded while the Aspen unit is still operating normally with zero packet loss. The newly downloaded software can be loaded immediately or can be kept on the Aspen unit to be loaded during off hours or during a set maintenance window. The Aspen unit will reset once the new software is loaded and will come back to normal operating conditions in under ten seconds.

Can I save and restore multiple Aspen configurations?

Yes, you can save up to 8 different user configurations on the Aspen unit itself. Also, once logged in via telnet/SSH, you can backup all configurations in a txt document on your PC.

Does the Aspen controller have a built in IPSEC VPN firewall for use in extended branch office networks?

No. Our appliance is designed to inter-operate with best of breed firewalls such as Cisco PIX/ASA, Juniper/Netscreen, Sonic Wall, etc. Multiple VPN firewalls can be connected to a single Aspen controller. This design ensures that VPN flows have no single point of failure.

Does the Aspen controller have a built in DNS server, and is it a primary or secondary?

No. DNS is a vital element of enterprise or SMB server infrastructure, and most people are using (1) an outsourced DNS service, or (2) managing their own best-of-breed DNS servers, or (3) a combination of both of these approaches, e.g. have a primary DNS server managed by an outside provider and a secondary DNS server on premises. Aspen's smart DNS caching algorithms are designed to passively learn by observing real DNS traffic, and communicating when necessary with external DNS services the customer is using.

Does Aspen support NAT and PAT? Are double NAT configurations possible?

Yes. The Aspen does support NAT and PAT and is typically used in Hosted VoIP deployments, where the Aspen 365 is being used as the SIP ALG. Aspen's VoIP firewall can be enabled to NAT and PAT and protect the deployed SIP devices. The optional NAT firewall can also be used for other devices. Double NAT configurations are handled correctly by the Aspen when moving NAT traffic flows to another ISP link.

Does Aspen support an optional DHCP server? How many VLAN subnets can be connected?

Yes, an optional DCHP server can be enabled. The Aspen controller can support up to 4 different DHCP pools with 4 different VLAN subnets. The user can specify different IP address ranges for each pool, as well as gateway, option 66, DNS servers, TFTP servers and boot files, and NTP servers.

Can the Aspen's DHCP server separate and assign SIP phones and PCs different IP addresses?

Yes, the user can configure reserved MAC addresses to be handed static IP addresses. The Aspen controller more importantly has the ability to intelligently hand out IP addresses from a certain DHCP pool based on user configured Vendor MAC OUI. For example, in a VoIP deployment where PCs and for instance Polycom SIP phones are deployed behind the Aspen controller, the user can configure Polycom's vendor OUI. Then when the PCs and Polycom phones all request DHCP, they will be separated into two pools automatically by the Aspen controller.

What optional firewall features are supported?

All Aspen controllers include an optional VoIP firewall based on stateful inspection. An optional NAT firewall is also provided.

How many ISP links can I use with Aspen's SIP ALG?

The Aspen 365 can be configured to use 1 to 4 ISP links to use for the SIP ALG.

Does the Aspen provide failover to a backup Hosted SIP Application Server?

Yes, the Aspen 365 provides "SIP Survivability" if the hosted provider has a backup SIP Application Server or SBC. The Aspen 365 can be configured to periodically probe all SIP servers with SIP OPTIONS health checks, as well as monitor all SIP messages going to the server for any failures and failover to backup SIP server.

How many different domains can the Aspen support for the smart DNS caching Web hosting solution?

The Aspen 365 can support up to 300 domains each on each server behind the Aspen device. If more domains are needed, customized solutions are available. Please contact Aspen Support by emailing support@aspen-networks.com

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