Aruba readies switches, APs, software for IoT market

Wireless networking company Aruba has introduced software upgrades, switches and APs for a growing IoT market.

To assist companies preparing for the Internet of Things, Aruba has upgraded its wireless management and security...

software, and has introduced a line of access points and multispeed campus switches.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) company, launched this week for the IoT market upgrades to its AirWave network management and ClearPass policy management applications. Also, the company unveiled the 330 series of 802.11ac Wave 2 APs and the 3810 series of 1/2.5/5/10 Gbps switches.

Companies adding IoT devices to the network will want to consider the higher throughput in the latest hardware, as well as the supporting software updates, said Nolan Greene, an analyst at IDC. "Overall, this keeps them playing well against Cisco, which is the other enterprise networking vendor building a strong end-to-end IoT story at the campus/access level."

Released this week, AirWave 8.2 targets the IoT market with a software plug-in, called Clarity, that does network performance testing whenever scheduled by IT departments. The application, which Aruba sells separately, also monitors some network metrics, including the time it takes for a device to connect to an access point's Wi-Fi radio.

Other monitored processes include devices receiving an IP address when joining the network and authentication of devices through a RADIUS server, which serves as a centralized database for user profiles.

The AirWave upgrade also has a set of features called VisualRF. The application's capabilities include monitoring for unacceptable levels of traffic to websites unrelated to employees' jobs. IT departments can investigate traffic trends during any period in the last 24 hours.

Pacific Life's use of Aruba

Pacific Life Insurance Co. uses AirWave to manage 700 Aruba APs in three locations, including its Newport Beach, Calif., headquarters. The company uses HPE campus and data center switches.

Pacific Life uses AirWave to segment the network based on use case. For example, a zone that's less restrictive than the corporate network is available to employees when in the cafeteria, said Alex Munro, assistant vice president of corporate IT. A third area provides limited network access for contractors.

"The one thing we do like about Aruba is that, with the same infrastructure in our buildings, we can have multiple classes of service or multiple security zones," Munro said. 

ClearPass 6.6's access management improvements include multifactor authentication through Aruba partners Duo Security Inc. and ImageWare Systems. Authentication methods could include, for example, having a PIN sent to a person's mobile phone when using a laptop not recognized by the network.

The ClearPass upgrade, which Aruba plans to release in April, will provide more extensive network data to IT staff investigating suspicious activity that could pose a security threat. Customers can also integrate ClearPass with Palo Alto Networks' next-generation firewall.

"[Aruba's] plays-well-with-others software is more or less in direct opposition to Cisco's generally closed platform philosophy," Greene said.

Aruba hardware for the IoT market

For companies that want faster hardware to support IoT, Aruba introduced the 330 series of Wave 2 APs, which include Bluetooth Low Energy chips for communication with Aruba Beacons. Retailers use the latter to deliver location-based services to shoppers' mobile devices. Aruba plans to ship the APs next quarter. The list price is $1,695.

Aruba's new 3810 switch series is available in multiple speeds, so customers can accommodate anticipated growth in the number of smartphones, tablets and IoT devices that could join the network in the future. The latter could include a wide variety of devices, such as video cameras, smartwatches or office thermostats.

Worldwide spending on IoT technology, in general, will grow at a 17% compound annual growth rate through 2019, when the IoT market will reach $1.3 trillion, according to IDC.

The 3810, which starts at $4,299, joins Aruba's other lines of campus switches, including the 2530, 2920 and 5400R. All the products are available with the new ArubaOS-Switch, which includes capabilities from the older ArubaOS and the HPE ProvisionOS.

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