Aruba Pushes WLAN Management to the Cloud
Aruba Networks (ARUN) is pushing management of its wireless LAN networks into the cloud, debuting a cloud-management Wi-Fi offering aimed at the enterprise branch, midsize and education markets.
Admittedly, cloud management of Wi-Fi networks is nothing new, but with existing solutions users lose certain features and functionality, said Sylvia Hooks, director of Product Marketing at Aruba.
“We are taking cloud Wi-Fi to the next level, addressing things that have held back customers to date,” she said. “The allure of cloud Wi-Fi is that it removes a lot of the operational expense of having the technology. But access points often don’t perform in the way they are supposed to [using a cloud management solution], and because some of the functions are performed in the cloud, if you lose your WAN link you lose your functionality.”
Not so with Aruba’s cloud Wi-Fi solution, which combines the company’s new Aruba Central cloud-based management offering with its Instant access points (APs), featuring management at both the network and device level. That means if the WAN goes down, IT still can manage the devices.
The new Aruba Central service enables IT, service providers or solution providers to manage multiple APs at a time, pushing the bulk of the management to the cloud. The solution, which Aruba is offering as a subscription service, can manage all Aruba APs, in multiple locations, and is designed to scale to large volumes of data—ideal for service providers.
“It was designed from the ground up to be a cloud system—it was architected to be a database that can handle massive amounts of data but provider a consumer-like experience,” Hooks said. “It was made elastic to add capacity; there is no upper limit to the number of APs a user can have. It also was designed to be highly available through multiple cloud hosts, so wherever you are in the world, you’ll get a fast response.”
Aruba also is offering new APs as part of the cloud Wi-Fi solution—the Instant 155 wireless and wired AP and the Instant 220 series 802.11ac wireless AP—aimed at midsize companies and distributed enterprises and verticals such as education. The Aruba Instant 155 AP provides 450Mbps performance in 802.11, while the Instant 220 series APs offer up to 1.3Gbps performance.
The Instant APs are plug-and-play, enabling IT administrators or service providers to configure the units using the management software. Aruba Central then matches the AP with the Aruba Central subscription and the AP’s configuration is “pulled down.”
“Partners like it because it enables them to make a nice business around deploying Wi-Fi and they don’t have to be on site to do that,” Hooks said.
Aruba also upgraded its Instant OS, introducing redundancies and failover mechanisms including the ability to connect two different ISPs to the same LAN. “For really business-critical apps, that is an important feature,” she noted.
Aruba plans to implement a beta program later this year for its channel partners that want to become service providers, offering a dashboard that enables multiple customers in a single view and the ability to “reskin” the dashboard with their own company name and logo. The company also plans to open its APIs to enable service providers to integrate Aruba Central into industry remote management and monitoring systems, Hooks said.