While the new partners in the ArubaEdge Technology Partner Program are decidedly non-traditional, Aruba also says they will open up new opportunities to traditional partners, in the same way the entry of voice-based telco partners in the early days of convergence created massive opportunities for the IT channel.
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has made a related pair of announcements. They have enhanced their Mobile First Architecture with NetInsight, a new innovation in AI-powered analytics and assurance for optimizing network performance. They also announced new partnerships with organizations in areas like global real estate, to deliver smarter workplace experiences.
“This is a two-part announcement, with both innovation news and go-to-market partnership news tied to the innovation,” said Janice Le, Aruba’s VP of Global Marketing. “The innovation is the new capabilities in Analytics and Assurance, which will assist partners in building solutions on top of our Mobile First Network as a platform.”
Le said that Aruba’s leading with mobile first is a differentiator for them, and a key factor in their ability to become what she termed a fierce underdog to Cisco, in what much of the channel sees as a two-horse race.
“We have grown the business significantly since the integration with HPE, and are now a two and a half billion dollar business, equally divided between wireless and wired,” she said. “We have a different approach to the role of the network, lead with mobile first, and we focus on wireless for things as well as people.”
NetInsight,a cloud-based analytics engine, is substantially focused on the Internet of Things.
“With the Internet of Things, many things are connected wirelessly,” Le said. “While it is most often associated with industrial settings and remote sensors, north of 30 per cent of the IoT is in the carpeted space. We will go deeper into IoT – including the carpeted space.”
Before NetInsight, Aruba has had analytics capabilities in network management, but they have been comparatively rudimentary.
“We have been using beginner-type analytics, but it has basically been focused on the ability to assess the health of user connectivity,” Le said. “We have used rule-base analysis, not machine learning. Now we are making big investments in machine learning – as is every other vendor. However, with this we are specifically focused on solving a problem around operations.”
Le said that the world in which network operators live in today is manual and error prone.
“NetInsight is designed to give them machine-learned insight into what exactly is happening in the network,” she said. “This insight allows IT to be proactive when it spots anomalous behaviour so IT can get ahead of help desk calls. It also helps fix a problem as well as identify it, being able, for example, to prescribe a configuration change that will yield 15 per cent performance improvements or better.”
In addition to the technology enhancement, Aruba has expanded its ArubaEdge Technology Partner Program with a new category of partners that include commercial real estate (CRE), connected furniture and new technology companies.
“These are organizations which are redesigning the workplace around the more open and wireless design that is preferred today,” Le said. “They are introducing a range of technologies into buildings to make them smart. These include connected desks, smart lighting, automated conference rooms, and preventive equipment maintenance.”
Because the smart digital experience drives the smart digital workplace, the role of the network becomes critical in connecting all of these users and things.
“We are able to link all of these through users’ identity and their profile,” Le indicated. “We can work to users’ locations because we have a unique ability to apply policies to users and things.”
These non-traditional partners include global real estate companies like CBRE.
“We are the first vendor in this space to strike up partnerships with construction and real estate,” Le said. “HermanMiller is the second largest commercial furniture design manufacturer. Deloitte, which has a practice around global digital workplace, is also a partner here.” Other partners in this sphere include smart lighting vendors like Lunera and Patrocinium, as well as next-generation UCC and room reservation vendors.
All these partners around smart digital workplace program now fit within the larger ArubaEdge partner program. Le said that bringing them in will also be a huge benefit for Aruba’s more traditional channel partners.
“Most of our resellers today don’t have smart digital workplace practice,” she said. “We bring these new partners to the table so our other partners can work together with them in harmony.”
Le drew a parallel here to the early days of convergence in networks.
“We saw this happen when voice converged with the network,” she said. “Telecom was outside of IT then – outside the scope of channel partners. The network brought those voice partners in to work with the channel. Then the same thing happened with video. This new wave of convergence is with the BUILDINGS – and with these new partners’ validated designs and pre-integrations.”
Le thinks that many traditional partners will build these smart workplaces over time, as they did around voice and video.
“The vendor needs to bring these partnerships together to build this out,” she said. “Our making investments in network architectures will enable partners to focus on things like the smart digital workplace.”
NetInsight is available now. Subscription prices start at $30 USD per network device. Pricing varies with multiyear subscriptions.