HPE Aruba formally unveils Agile NaaS approach and a new networking Service Pack

Aruba acknowledges that Agile NaaS, which helps partners and customers customize networking solutions for specific use cases, will always be for a smaller share of customers, but says it will have great value for them, and it’s still a segment which is large enough to pursue.

David Hughes, Aruba’s Chief Product and Technology Officer

LAS VEGAS – HPE Aruba has made some significant announcements around their Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) capabilities, with both the launch of their Agile NaaS  framework and a new Service Pack for their Clearpass Network Access Control solution. The announcements were part of the HPE Aruba Atmosphere 23 event for customers  and partners, which is taking place in Las Vegas this week.

“Agile NAS is not a product and not a SKU, said Larry Lunetta, Aruba’s vice president of WLAN and security solutions marketing. “Agile NaaS is a way for a customer to navigate decisions about how they want to pay for the network, manage it, and what kind of network they want to use.  Networking isn’t one size fits all. They want to go through this thought process in their decision making in deciding how to best consume their networking services. The Agile NaaS strategy simplifies the delivery of these services through the HPE GreenLake platform.”

Agile NaaS is a methodology which lets Aruba and its partners understand specifically what the important elements of this thought process for each specific customer is, so that they can customize the correct solution.

“Regardless of what their priorities are, a majority of customers say when they make a NaaS decision, the network itself is an important part of that, so it’s important for a partner to be able to focus on what they need and want,” Lunetta said.

Lunetta pointed out that Agile NaaS is more than just OPEX.  He noted that one of the customers in the first keynote, Kenneth Shaffer, Assistant VP of Enterprise Systems at Carmax, had specific use cases that made him opt for both CAPEX and OPEX solutions.

“OPEX can be Agile NaaS, but Carmax also bought hardware because hardware networking is different than compute as a service,” Lunetta said. “You cannot time share an access point in a hotel room. Because NaaS isn’t like computer storage there are a lot of definitions people are using. Analysts and even other vendors have pointed this out. One size really does not fit all.” Lunetta said that Carmax’s CAPEX-OPEX mix was unusual, but it did show the need to be able to accommodate specifics that would let customers in some use cases move quickly.

David Hughes, Aruba’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, also addressed this issue in his Technology keynote, in which he pointed out that NaaS has become something of a buzzword.

“Each customer situation involves different circumstances,” he said. “We give customers a lot of flexibility choice and agility, so they can find a business engagement model that works for them.

Phil Mottram, HPE Aruba Networking EVP and GM, acknowledged that while they project that the market for Agile NaaS will grow, this will still be for certain types of partners, and not the majority of customers.

“It’s an evolution that will happen in the market, and we will roll it out to the broader market, but we see it as more of a steady build and not a big bang thing,” he stated. “We think it will be 10-20% of the market 2-3 years from now. This means that it will never be a substantial part of the market, but it is still big enough for us to address.”

Last year, Aruba introduced eight service packs, a bundle of software and hardware subscriptions, which they say are now fully rolled out. Now they are announcing a new one, around their Clearpass Network Access Control Solution, which consists of a standardized NaaS network policy offering.

“The service packs are a way for a partner to expand their NaaS business, particularly since it’s a way to have a conversation with both the technical people and the business owners,” Lunetta said.