Some Things I Didn’t Know About Aruba ClearPass

So I just finished attending my second year of Aruba’s Atmosphere (a.k.a. “Airheads”) conference, and this time around my learning focus was on ClearPass.  In case you didn’t know, ClearPass is basically a glorified RADIUS authentication server. But it can also do SO MUCH MORE.

I have experience with ClearPass handing TACACS+ authentications for all our Cisco gear, and we use it for downloadable ACLs for our ASA firewalls. It’s pretty much the bee’s knees. I even had the opportunity to share a couple stories this week with Ten Talks, fashioned after Keith Parson’s use of TT’s at the annual Wireless LAN Professionals Conference (WLPC).

Thing #1 I didn’t know: There’s “hidden documentation” on the APIs built into the product. That’s right, you can go to https://clearpassIP/api-docs and see all sorts of lovely documentation on the APIs available in that particular version of ClearPass.  They first started with APIs for Guest, the element of CP used to handle guest registration and one-time time-limited access credentials and workflows. Apparently they’re also opening up APIs for the TIPS functionality of CP starting in April in v6.6. So basically anything you’d normally see or configure at https://ClearpassIP/tips will be available via a RESTful API. See below for some sample screenshots.

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Thing #2 I didn’t know: There’s apparently a “graphite” graphing utility available at https://clearpassIP/graphite that allows you to see how much data is being transferred between members of a ClearPass cluster. There’s a reference to it in Danny Jump’s Tech Note on Clustering Design Guidelines. Unfortunately when I tested on my system I get “Error 403 Forbidden.”

Thing #3 I didn’t know: Default ClearPass settings are NOT the same as recommended ClearPass settings. The Clustering Design Guidelines document mentioned above has some recommendations that I need to review and see if we need to make changes in our environment.

Thing #4 I didn’t know: Every ClearPass Policy Manager (CPPM) that uses Active Directory (AD) or other LDAP authentication should be joined to the domain via a domain controller that is LOCAL TO THE CPPM. This might explain why I experience timeouts with TACACS+ authentication every morning—because it’s having to traverse the WAN to complete the AD auth.

Thing #5 I didn’t know: Airwave can be added as an “Endpoint Context Server” to ClearPass. This enables a link to “Open in Airwave” when viewing a particular authentication in Access Tracker (see below). Clicking the link will open Airwave and, if the device is currently connected to an Airwave-managed device, will show you health status, connection path, etc. Pretty cool stuff.

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I took in a lot of info this week. Now I hope I can act on it back at the office before I start getting back into the grind!

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