Aruba Atmosphere Was About SD-Branch, 802.11ax and 802.11ad

We attended the Aruba Atmosphere 2019 user conference in Las Vegas.  What we learned was that Aruba had made solid progress since last year’s Atmosphere conference.  It has delivered on 802.11ax, SD-Branch (and SD-WAN), AI/ML, and Zigbee/Bluetooth 5.0, and elements of the IoT market.  The company also introduced a new access point that was not hinted at last year, an 802.11ad outdoor access point.  If we were to sum up the company’s main message for the show, it’s all about SD-Branch.  The company took great efforts to emphasize that its portfolio has greater breadth than ever and is among the few vendors that can deliver all the networking a company may desire.

802.11ax.  At last year’s event, the company told customers to expect 802.11ax products by Nov/Dec of 2018.  Our market share tables show the company shipped 802.11ax for revenue in 4Q18.  At the show, the company also announced some new, full-featured 802.11ax Access Points, the 530 and 550 series.  These new Access Points support Bluetooth 5 and Zigbee, to allow support of IoT devices.  These new 802.11ax Access Points will be available this month, April 2019.​

802.11ad.  The company also introduced a point to point outdoor access point.  The new AP387 allows 1 Gbps at 400 meters using 802.11ad and has a backup of 5 GHz 802.11ac in case of inclement weather.  This device has been shipping for a “couple months” according to the stage presentation (personnel at the show booth said since January 2019).

Machine Learning.  Using Machine Learning for Client Steering and for managing Transient clients. At last year’s Atmosphere event, the company was just rolling out AI/ML to customers to improve networking capabilities for wireless users.

SD-Branch.  The company disclosed that it has 25,000 SD-Branch “wins,” which means that it has many contracts to sell “at some point in the future” SD-WAN and other branch equipment systems such as WLAN and switching.  At last year’s event, the company had not sold any SD-WAN, so this is a big accomplishment and signifies Aruba’s progress in delivering what it calls a Single Pane of Glass approach that includes four parts:  SD-WAN orchestration, Dynamic Path Steering, Secure Connectivity, and Dynamic Segmentation.

Clearpass Device Insight.  The company introduced its device recognition system, intended to simplify the discovery of IoT devices on the network.  Clearpass Device Insight is available in April 2019.  This cloud service uses a fingerprint database, as well as AI/ML, to find devices on the network, and then presents them by category on a single screen.

During the day-2 presentations, the company had some fun and CTO, Partha Narasimhan, showed a picture of him pretending to be an IT executive of a fictitious university.