Aruba Atmosphere 2021 – “Journey to the Edge”

Each year, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company has its Atmosphere conference. This year the conference theme was “Journey to the Edge.” However, this year was also much different from previous conferences because Aruba completed the acquisition of Silver Peak last September.  As a result of the acquisition, the conference had a significant focus on SD-WAN, the primary product of Silver Peak, and integration with Aruba.  A critical new trend that the combined company is now pivoting towards is SASE, which Aruba includes in “Edge to Cloud Security.” Aruba is partnering with well-known companies to deliver a complete “Edge to Cloud Security” portfolio. Aruba’s broadening portfolio allows it to “land and expand” to customers and provide a more comprehensive portfolio. Portfolio growth is what other competitors to Aruba are doing because there’s a growing need to manage networking and security systems simultaneously as users and computing leave the campus environment. Additionally, the company made several new announcements to advance Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform), like Aruba Central being available on-prem, ClearPass Policy Manager integration with the Aruba EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform, and IDS/IPS/UTM capabilities. The company also updated its partners on its growing AIOps capabilities and hinted that it would be making Wi-Fi 6E announcements “soon.”

New announcements

  • Aruba Central On-Premises. Aruba Central for customers that need an on-prem solution. This will complement AirWave, and the two will come together to service network management . Central includes deep analytics, peer comparisons, and AIOps. Aruba Central on-prem is a new introduction that sees acceptance by customers who want to manage the system themselves. For instance, Northwestern University, which uses 7,000 Aruba Access Points, is now using Aruba Central On-Premises. 
  • Edge-to-Cloud Security.  This includes a number of integrations for Aruba ESP. Among them are the integration of ClearPass into EdgeConnect, which brings in the zero trust dynamic segmentation; the integration of Aruba Threat Defense with the EdgeConnect platform; and a new service orchestration capability, so customers can have the freedom to deploy best-of-breed, cloud-delivered SASE security components.
  • Zero Trust Dynamic Segmentation. Aruba’s Zero trust dynamic segmentation capability makes it so users and devices only connect to intended resources.  For instance, Point of Sale systems only talk to transaction processing systems.  By integrating with the Aruba-based product called ClearPass, the company will offer end-to-end zero-trust dynamic segmentation. 
  • Unified Branch Security.  Aruba’s IDS/IPS/UTM capability goes to beta April/May 2021, with General Availability expected by the end of 2021.  Aruba will incorporate IDS/IPS/UT into Aruba Central.

Future announcements. Management hinted at some announcements that will come in the future.  These include:

  • Wi-Fi 6E Access Points.  There were no announcements at the conference, but Keerti Melkote, Founder, President and General Manager of Aruba, said such an announcement will come “soon.”

Updates.  We felt some noteworthy comments came up during the show.

  • AIOps. Aruba has offered AI-enabled systems in Aruba Central for the past year or more, and it is a core attribute of Aruba ESP.  The company explained that it sees three general types of AI happening on its systems and also discussed the improvements that some users see from AIOps use:
    • Reactive AIOps – most common (when a customer has a problem, the system help to resolve it)
    • Proactive AIOps – We’ve seen it improve capacity 100% in specific retail customers, 4x speed increases at some higher-ed customers, and 30x reduction in user issues at some enterprise users
    • Protective AIOps (Security) – 75% report IoT blind spots
  • Aruba Central.  The company shared that it has approximately 80,000 Aruba Central customers as of 4Q20, about 50% greater than the just over 50,000 level in 4Q19.  And Aruba Central now manages 1.3M network devices and over 10M end devices.  
  • Aruba has delivered products to customers “on-time” 99.3% of the time, despite industry-wide supply chain challenges.
  • RAP and VIA. Both the Remote Access Point (RAP) series and the VIA software client have been available in both the Aruba and Silver Peak portfolios for a while; there was some discussion about how these can be used to manage and secure work from home (WFH) environments. We found it interesting that Aruba can turn a home into an office and felt that Aruba could have done more to emphasize this, as the product has been very popular due to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, so we are bringing it up because work-from-home (WFH) and hybrid work schedules are probably not going away soon.