Next-gen HPE Aruba Networking Central platform of signal importance to company gong forward

The next generation version contains multiple new features designed to make customers lives easier, on a platform that will manage all of Arubas expanding solutions inventory

.LAS VEGAS – Today, HPE Aruba kicked off their Aruba Atmosphere event here with two major announcements. First, they introduced the next generation of their HPE Aruba Networking Central cloud-native network management solution. Secondly, they announced Network-as-a-service [NaaS] capabilities for customers and channel partners to acquire, deploy, and manage on the HPE GreenLake platform. While the NaaS announcement is important, particularly for partners who sell Aruba’s Clearpass Network Access Control offering, the new generation of Aruba Central is extremely important for Aruba going forward.

“The next generation of HPE Aruba Networking Central can much more easily manage complex networks to meet customers’ business requirements,” said Larry Lunetta, Aruba’s vice president of portfolio solutions marketing.

While the new platform contains several significant new features, Lunetta said that what is really important here is not the new features themselves, but the potential in the platform to build more.

“Things that we recently announced like the acquisitions of Athonet and Axis Security, are of strategic importance, but what we have been doing under the covers with Aruba Central have been big progressions,” he said. “We rearchitected workflows and use and analytics, and then it has all been migrated to the Greenlake platform. This sets the stage for growth going forward, and for new functionality going forward.”

The enhancements are significant, however.

“Solar System lets you highlight things, and view changes depending on where you put the focus at the centre,” Lunetta said It makes it easier in one screen to understand what’s happening, because you can change the context around what’s in the centre.

Network time travel allows a network admin to go back seven days in one minute increments, something that has not been seen elsewhere in the networking industry. It has been common in areas like backup for years, but Lunetta pointed out that the scale of networking makes this a much more difficult proposition

“Data sizes has been the issue,” he said. “That’s also why we only go back only seven days. It’s a massive amount of data to go through, and we don’t charge the customer for it.”

Sunburst view is another new feature.

“The idea is to reduce clicks,” Lunetta said. “It gets down to the hierarchy of a network, and allows you to integrate all that information in a way that transforms the  visualization of large, complex networks.

New Device Agnostic configuration is another new feature that removes the need for an admin to know CLI [Command Line Interface].

“It you configure a switch it will have a language with it, not CLI,” Lunetta stated. “The same goes for an access point. We have abstracted them all into an easy to use graphic interface, and it will interpret commands. You don’t have to know if you are programming an access point switch or a gateway. With this, we are  trying to reduce the amount of detail knowledge you need to manage the network. A network admin now doesn’t even have to learn CLI.”

While the new features are all well and good, there was sentiment at the event that the big picture of the next-gen Aruba  Central really needs to overcome the limitations which have been there with Central previously.

“I think this is critical to Aruba’s survival,” said Jason Coclanes , Account Manager Networking at Pier Group, a southern Indiana partner who won Aruba’s Central Partner of the Year award last year, and whose business is heavily focused on the research space at universities and research labs.  “The industry is shifting to cloud. The current iteration of the Aruba Central cloud will not cut it in many industries they service today, including the universities.” He pointed out that universities made up a staggeringly high percentage of customers at Atmosphere this year – 45%, he had been told. Pier Group themselves brought over 100.

“This issue is super critical for ourselves and our customers, and can impact us tremendously,” Coclanes said.

HPE CEO and HPE Aruba leader Phil Mottram said the platform issue was important, but by itself not the most critical issue Aruba faces.

“I don’t think the platform itself is the most critical thing,” he said. “It’s making sure that we invest in the platform. Today, we have had three main product groups, and now we are adding another three, all sitting one on platform. It’s essential to make sure there is one platform for all the products we offer, which is not the case with some major competitors. The new platform’s AI capabilities will make about 75 different decisions for customers, will reallocate resources, and spot and make a change to fix the problem before the problem actually happens. Today, many customers still just want us to flag things, and give their human the ability to actually push the button to make the change. Other new capabilities like Time Travel and Solar System address real customer concerns. In the old platform the customer would need to have multiple tasks open and would have to move around. Solar System collects information to let users solve problems faster.”