Aruba announces first SD-WAN branch solution

Aruba extends their software-defined architecture to the branch, with the new loud Managed 7000 Series Branch Gateways, as well as new Aruba Central abilities to manage them.

Aruba Central

Today, at HPE Discover, HPE company Aruba has made its first foray into the software-defined WAN [SD-WAN] space, extending their software-defined architecture to the branch level to integrate wireless LAN, LAN, WAN and security, with the announcement of the Cloud Managed 7000 Series Branch Gateways. They also announced expanded capabilities to Aruba Central to manage them, as well as new third-party security integration options to provide customers with more security choices.

“This is our first entrée into the SD WAN space,” said Lissa Hollinger, Vice President, Product and Solution Marketing for Aruba. “We pioneered the first software-defined architecture in 2002 and extended it to switching solutions in 2017. With this announcement, we are now extending this software-defined architecture once again, to the WAN, which will be embedded in the branch, with one unified architecture and operations model.”

Hollinger said that the traditional branch-to-data centre architecture has been made obsolete by organizations moving to multi-cloud architectures in order to manage distributed architectures, with 85 per cent planning to make this commitment by this year.

“It is no longer an optimal architecture because much traffic goes to the Internet or to the cloud, so it makes less sense to backhaul it through the data centre,” she indicated. “In addition, there are many different devices on the WAN edge, coming from different vendors, and there are also a lot of them, with 20 billion IoT devices forecast to be deployed by 2020. These add new security risks and also need to be managed. Customers also want to eliminate traditional siloes, which are also more expensive, and to simplify their environments. This new solution is designed to address all these trends.”

Hollinger said that because Aruba wanted this branch solution to be an integral part of the overall software-defined architecture, and managed through the Aruba Central platform, that it would be necessary to develop it from the ground up in their engineering organization, so that it would be seamlessly integrated.

The new Aruba SD-Branch solution

“The cornerstone of this strategy is the new 7000 series,” Hollinger said. “While it is our first SD-WAN release, it is very much enterprise grade. It has five separate platforms, to provide a diverse offering to address branch offices of all sizes, and they integrate SD-WAN, wireless LAN and security.”

She said that the new gateway, supported by the enhancements to Aruba Central, offers a value proposition in three different areas.

“The first is simplicity at enterprise scale to address complexity. There is zero-touch provisioning. When you initially connect to an ISP, it automatically phones home and the appropriate template is downloaded. There is also an optional mobile app for the non-technical installer, and a single pane of glass for the centralized IT team. All this simplicity minimizes of eliminates the need to do a truck roll to the branch.”

The second value proposition is an optimized branch experience through a contextual policy for LAN and WAN, which leverages Aruba’s ClearPass network access control technology.

“We have a fine-grained contextual awareness to meet or exceed SLAs,” Hollinger said. “Our DPS [Dynamic Path Selection] capability looks into the first packet of flow to route an optimal link, with intelligent path selection and automatic failover. It gives IT more control into assigning policy to the various SD- WAN overlays and how they get routed. It also monitors the health of the connections.”

The third key element is the integration of security into the new gateway for what Aruba terms best-in-class security. It begins with Aruba’s own embedded application and user-aware stateful firewall with content filtering.

“For additional capabilities, particularly cloud-based, or for customers who prefer to use another vendor for security, we have expanded our relationships with Check Point and Palo Alto Networks to add new integrations for cloud-based firewalls, as well as a new partnership with ZScaler,” Hollinger said. “We didn’t have these integrations with cloud-based firewalls before.”

The new gateway products are in active trials today. They, as well as the enhanced management capabilities of Aruba Central, will be available at the end of July. The subscription price starts at $USD 450 list per gateway per year, on 1,3,5, 7 or 10 year subscriptions, while the hardware starts at $USD 1,495 list per gateway.