Aruba pushes new network tools, cloud pricing model

The company’s cloud-based network management service will be run by techs from a mobile app

cloud internet of things connections links network iot

Aruba, a division of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, announced software today that's designed to help companies speed up secure integration of mobile devices and Internet of Things objects into their networks.

Called Aruba Mobile First Platform, the software is based on application programming interfaces (APIs) for use by third-party developers and developer teams inside companies to help them boost automation with IoT devices and allow mobile workers to be more efficient.

Mobile First is built on Aruba OS 8.0, the company's new operating system, which is deployed as a virtual machine on a server appliance.

Also, Aruba announced enhancements to its existing Aruba ClearPass software for Mobile First to make it easier for IT security teams to integrate cloud-hosted services into ClearPass. This means customers can more easily build software workflows for Enterprise Mobility Management packages.

In one example, these new ClearPass Extensions can help Intel Security McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator software check on the security settings of a connected smartphone or other device. Ozer Dondurmacioglu, senior director of product marketing at Aruba, said in an interview that multi-factor authentication (fingerprints, for example) from companies like Kasada could also more easily be integrated.

Mobile First uses analytics capabilities with Bluetooth Low Energy indoor location services that could help retail marketing teams grab insights from shoppers about the latest promotions.

One existing Aruba customer, the Thames Valley District School Board based in London, Ontario, is in the process of deploying Aruba Central, Aruba's subscription-based, cloud-hosted network service. Stephen Young, manager of IT services for the 74,000-student district, said in an interview that Aruba's cloud-based network services tools will be "extremely helpful," given the district has a lean IT staff that must oversee 160 schools. One IT tech must oversee as many as six schools.

"We're excited with the visibility and ease of network management," Young said. "We like the fact that a tech will soon do the Wi-Fi network troubleshooting from a phone." That capability is available through a new Aruba Central mobile app, also announced today.

The school district picked Aruba for its network cloud service as a result of a competitive procurement process that included other major providers such as Cisco. "Using the cloud reduces upgrades and maintenance, which is good for us," Young added.

Cloud-based network services that are easy to manage is the direction every major networking vendor, including Aruba, Cisco and Aerohive Networks is taking, according to Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research.

"There's a big move to put IoT in the cloud and Aruba has the right messaging about this transition," Lopez said. "Everything is becoming a service. You had the data center as a service and now you have [networking] boxes where you layer on top the networking service."

Analyst firm IDC says the emerging Network-as-a Service (NaaS) market is comprised of the cloud-managed Wireless LAN and Software Defined Networking markets, which together will grow to more than $11 billion by 2018.

Aruba separately announced it is working with Accenture and Deloitte to provide an operating expense-based NaaS pricing model, allowing it to treat its network like a utility that can scale in size as demands and services -- like new security tools -- grow. Retailers are likely to lead in the adoption of NaaS, Deloitte predicted.

As part of its announcements, Aruba set pricing for new Aruba OS8 virtual mobility controllers that can support hundreds of WLAN access points at $6,795. The Aruba OS8 virtual mobility master for larger groups of thousands of access points was set at $10 495.

Both will be available in the fourth quarter of this year.

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