Aruba unveils new NetConductor for automated network and security management in distributed overlay enforcements

Aruba’s other big announcement on the first day of their Aruba Atmosphere event is the enhancement of their high-end APs with indoor location services through the introduction of GPS-based coordinates.

Aruba NetConductor

Today, as the Aruba Atmosphere event kicks off in Las Vegas, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, is announcing two major advancements to their Aruba ESP [Edge Services Platform]. One is the introduction of Aruba Central NetConductor, which provides cloud-native network configuration and security policy services to provide automated unified overlay design and Zero Trust and SASE security policy definition. The other is the introduction of new GPS-based location services designed to make indoor location services as good as the outdoor ones.

The changes reflect the massive impact digital acceleration has had on the need for network modernization.

“The premise of network modernization is that the new hybrid work, business models and need for efficiencies are accelerating digital transformation – with the ‘aha moment’ being the network,” said Larry Lunetta, vice president of Solutions Portfolio Marketing for Aruba. “Network modernization dramatically improves location information where the access endpoints and devices are. The network is also foundational to security. Network modernization also allows the cloud to provide improved agility. We are anti-rip and replace, and we want customers to migrate to these new models.”

Aruba Central NetConductor is part of Aruba’s unified Level 2 overlay strategy.

“Most organizations still build networks around VLANs, which are manual and error prone, but they work,” Lunetta said. “We are introducing an overlay on top of it.” It stitches together existing VLAN segments with cloud-native policy and configuration services.

“NetConductor automates overlay design and security policy definition,” Lunetta stated. “It is a set of cloud-delivered services to build new secure networks which operates at global scale, and can support hundreds of thousands of endpoints – far more than VLAN.” Its use of widely accepted protocols like EVPN, VXLAN and BGP also increases interoperability and ease of migration.

“Some companies are concerned they don’t have the resources to do all this, so for them, we have introduced easy buttons,” Lunetta noted. “One is Fabric Wizard, a GUI where an admin can string together segments and have configuration information propagated to the switches for automated overlay design. The other is Policy Manager, which automates security policy definition.”

NetConductor’s extension of dynamic segmentation into distributed overlay enforcement complements Aruba’s existing centralized overlay enforcement using ClearPass Policy Enforcement Firewall.

“Dynamic segmentation was in Aruba almost from the beginning, with ClearPass Policy Enforcement Firewall, Lunetta said. “Now with NetConductor, fabric traffic can be carried by the most appropriate policy. Distributed overlay enforcement works best in global networks, while centralized overlay enforcement works best in local ones. So ClearPass Policy Manager still has a mission, and can operate with NetConductor.”

The other major component of today’s Aruba announcements involves what Aruba is terming a major innovation in indoor location services through the introduction of GPS-based coordinates through Open Locate to their high-end access points.

Aruba Self-Locating AP-635 Access Point

“This is a very exciting breakthrough in important area, since it impacts how people come back to the office,” Lunetta remarked. “The issue here is that the ease of outdoor GPS-based location services has not been replicated indoors, and we have been asked many times why we can’t we move GPS indoors effectively. We have now done that. We have solved the accuracy problem for Line of Business applications indoors with Open Locate, which is available over the air to any mobile location service or app for faster development.” These self-locating indoor access points implify how organizations capture indoor location data and communicate information over the air to any mobile device or application.

“In our high end Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E APs, we now ship a built-in GPS receiver,” Lunetta said. Together with fine-time measurement and intelligent software to enable highly accurate, automated WLAN deployments, they provide zero-touch determination of AP location, and continuously validate and update location. This can be used to easily develop or enhance asset tracking, safety and compliance, facility planning, venue experience apps or other location-aware services.

All of this will have significant advantages for channel partners.

“It makes it easier for them to tap into new trends around automation, security, an agility, to build recurring revenue streams, and to wrap own services around  them,” Lunetta said.