Aruba turns to the core with first core aggregation switch

In addition to the new Aruba 8400 Core Switch, featuring an advanced new OS, Aruba is also announcing the addition of asset tracking capabilities to their Meridian Mobile App platform.

The Aruba 8400

LAS VEGAS – Today, on the opening day of the HPE Discover customer event, HPE company Aruba announced the Aruba 8400 Core Switch series, in its first move beyond the edge of the campus network. The secret sauce here is the new ArubaOS-CX software. Based on Open Source, it is API-centric for easy integration, and boasts high degrees of automation and programmability. Aruba also made a second announcement relating to its location-based services portfolio, adding asset tracking capabilities directly into its wireless infrastructure.

The lack of a core aggregation switch had become an increasing concern for Aruba, because of the growth in mobile and cloud apps, the development of the Internet of Things from concept to reality, and the increases in data making it harder to analyze effectively.

“We found that we needed to push out to the core,” said Christian Gilby, Director of Product Marketing for Aruba. “We did not have a core aggregation switch previously, covering this with an OEM product, the HPE 10500. Partners had been asking us to specifically integrate Aruba into the core because they were having to source a core switch from a competitor. The 8400 is a brand new product, built from scratch, which takes what we did on the edge of the network and extends it into the core.”

Gilby described the 8400 as a game-changing offering.

“This next-generation OS is based on Open Source, and is API-centric from the ground-up,” he said. “It was fully designed to interface with third parties and be fully programmable, with a PYTHON interpreter and REST-based APIs for everything on the system. This programmability is a real differentiation for us, and is one thing that has really excited our partners.”

The Aruba Network Analytics Engine adds a high degree of automated visibility through simple rules-based monitoring and automatic correlation of network activities.

“The engine includes a native time-series data base which lets us collect information over time,” Gilby said. Combined with event correlation, it makes it easier to analyze trends quickly, speeds up troubleshooting for customers, and lets them automate more in setting up and configuring the switch.

“This has been a big thing that partners have been excited about,” Gilby said. “In the same way it speeds up troubleshooting for customers, it also speeds up their troubleshooting, and it allows them to do more integration with the switch with the REST APIs.”

While Aruba is emphasizing the new switch’s programmability and automation, Gilby pointed out that it has the capacity and scalability to provide carrier-grade performance and availability.

“The 8400 is a 19TB/s system, which is significantly more performance than any other core switch now out there, which allows us to scale for the future,” he said. Fully extensible fabric design also enables seamless upgrades, while the Virtual Switching Framework with two chassis scales up to 512 10GbE, 128 40Gbe or 96 100 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Gilby also noted that Aruba is prioritizing training partners on the new switch.

“Because we haven’t had a core switch before, some of the partners may not have had experience with that, so we are working on enablement to let them to go with it,” he said.

The Aruba 8400 Core Switch is available now.

The second part of the Aruba announcement is a new addition to its location-based services portfolio that helps organizations easily track certain types of assets. The new Aruba asset tracking solution is fully integrated into the Aruba wireless infrastructure, and removes the former need for a second solution specifically for asset tracking.

The Aruba Asset Tracking Solution

“This leverages our existing Meridian Mobile App platform,” said Trent Fierro, Director of Software Marketing for Aruba. “Previously, we didn’t have an asset tracking capability. This had to be done previously using another solution, which could get complicated, and could require the use of dedicated mobile devices. Our partners might not be able to add it at all, because some were not familiar with asset management. So our approach here was to leverage our own Wi-Fi platform and use it for asset tracking as well.”

The strongest market for this is in health care, where devices like IV pumps, heart defibrillators are commonly moved around, and even lost.

“We found that customers had been losing between 10 and 20 per cent of their inventory, and that nurses were spending up to a quarter of their time looking for these assets, instead of treating patients,” Fierro said. He also noted that while health care is clearly the sweet spot, the market is broader than this.

“We are working with one vendor that does van conversions,” he said. “There is also interest among casinos who like to move their slot machines around.” Not all assets can be tracked however. People, mobile devices and loose retail goods fall into this category.

An Enhanced AppMaker in updates to the Meridian Software creates the asset tracking apps for iOS or Android

“You map the facility you apply this to, and then overlay the asset tracking on top of that,” Fierro said. The BLE [Bluetooth Low Energy’ tags are easily installed and monitored with a config app, and an integrated diagnostic tool enables location accuracy measurements.

“The Aruba tags have a two-year battery life, so you don’t have to recharge them on a daily basis,” Fierro added.

“The entire system is easy to install. All it takes is an upgrade to the asset points, so the customer works with the partner to the upgrade wireless environment, instead of using an asset tracking solution that would require them to run a secondary network.”

Fierro indicated that asset tracking has its major appeal to a different type of partner – app developers – but that more traditional partners are becoming involved with location-based services.

“It’ becoming more a significant part of the business for some,” he said. “The engagement is very different. You don’t talk with the networking team, but with the Patient Experience Officer, which lets you stay engaged at different levels within the client.”

The Aruba asset tracking solution is also available now.