Aruba simplifies network for the distributed data centre with new portfolio announcements

Aruba Fabric Composer is new orchestration software for the Aruba CX switches, and a new CX 8360 switch series was announced for edge data centres. Aruba and HPE have also strengthened their joint technology and Go-to-Market integrations.

Aruba Fabric Composer

Today, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, is making a trio of announcements, all of them designed to simplify networking for the edge-to-cloud era. The most notable is likely Aruba Fabric Composer, new orchestration software for Aruba CX switches, which leverages technology from HPE’s 2018 acquisition of software-defined fabric provider Plexxi. Aruba is also announcing its CX 8360 series of 25GbE/100GbE switches, which it is touting as ideal for modern edge-focused networking because of its simplified operations and flexible port density. Finally, Aruba is announcing a new focus on joint solutions and going to market with HPE that is tighter than anything done previously.

“These announcements are is more of an incremental advancement in our portfolio, as we add some higher value solutions to address use cases we are seeing our customers ask about,” said Steve Brar, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Aruba. “They are a collection of new solutions focused on simplifying the operations for network and broader IT teams. We want to build networking solutions that address this trend of centers of data being distributed from edge to cloud, that go beyond traditional data centres.”

The Aruba Fabric Composer is a new product that uses the Plexxi technology to orchestrate a discrete set of switches as a single entity in a fabric topology with CX switches

“This is our first software-defined networking automation tool, which brings a new software-defined networking capability to the Aruba portfolio,” Brar indicated. “It allows for automated network provisioning and orchestration with integrations to common tools used in the data centre. The genesis is an investment HPE made through the Plexxi acquisition, which has now been productized as Aruba Fabric Composer.”

The Fabric Composer automates fabric provisioning.

“The goal is to make it very easy for the network team to get the network up and running,” Brar said. “Its unique value proposition is that it is extremely lightweight and adds a lot of value in a small package, so that it doesn’t require three dedicated appliances in the data centre. It also provides visibility about what’s happening underneath the covers. It’s at least 10x faster provisioning for orchestration because of the upgrade from doing things manually.”

Aruba CX 8360 family

The hardware announcement – which is actually underscored by its software, is the Aruba CX 8360 switch series, which extends the CX portfolio that was first launched in 2017 as a cloud-native microservices-based architecture.

“These new switches are designed for modern data centre use cases, and are ideal for connecting compute and workloads,” Brar said. “It’s really the software that is the magic with the CX platform.”

The CX8360’s flexible port density gives it the versatility to address a wide range of edge use cases.

“We offer some unique form factors in this series for newer use cases out at the edge, where they don’t need a whole rack of microservices-based architecture,” Brar said.  There are five models in the series: 12 port 40G/100G; 32 port 10G/25G with 4-port 40G/100G; 16 port 10G/25G with 2-port 40G/100G; 48 port 1G/10GBASE-T with 4-port 40G/100G; and 24-port 1G/10G with 2-port 40G/100G.

The final part of the announcement is Aruba emphasizing how they are now working more closely with HPE on both product integration and Go-to-Market execution.

“We have made a lot of advancements on that front, specifically using Aruba as the networking solution with HPE solutions,” Brar said. “This is new. There were previous iterations of HPE gear you could do this with, but we have gone to a second level of integration in putting Aruba branded solutions into HPE solutions with a ‘better together’ technology strategy.”

This includes joint HPE-Aruba integrations around ProLiant servers, iLO Amplifer and HPE SimpliVity.

“With SimpliVity, we have made it really easy to connect that to an Aruba network, and taken manual steps out with an easy GUI-driven workflow,” Brar noted. The joint integrations also include additional third-party ones with VMware and Nutanix.

“We have also seen progress around Aruba and HPE going to market with joint solutions,” Brar added. “This is actually something new for Aruba. “We’ve integrated the Go-to-Market with HPE from an ordering and a pre-configuration perspective.” This includes initiatives around HPE brands Nimble, ProLiant DX [the Nutanix series] and Cray, as well as a joint integration with SAP HANA.

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