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Aruba aims to enhance the mobile-first enterprise

With a handful of new products designed to get the most out of Wi-Fi and mobile apps, Aruba sets its sights on the increasingly mobile enterprise.

Male executive holding tablet with hovering wireless icon
Credit: Thinkstock

Digitization is currently a red-hot topic with IT and business leaders. One of the foundational components of digitization is finding ways to improve the mobile experience of customers, workers, students, clinicians, etc. In fact, almost everyone today considers the mobile device to be a critical part of life today. 

ZK Research (disclosure: I am an employee of ZK Research) has done a number of studies on this topic, and has found some interesting statistics. One is that 71% of workers today believe that mobility makes them more productive. Another is that almost 80% of mobile application developers believe that contextual information, such as location, makes mobile applications more useful. Clearly, being mobile-first is a key component of digitization.

Aruba Networks (Aruba Networks is a client of ZK Research), an HP Enterprise company, made an announcement this morning that advances its mobile engagement vision and should make it easier for organizations to shift to a mobile-first model.

The first part of the announcement is cloud-based management of beacons across multi-vendor Wi-Fi networks. Having accurate indoor location information can greatly enhance the experience of the mobile user. Wi-Fi triangulation is one method, but it is only accurate to within a few meters. Beacons can provide location accuracy to within a foot or so, making it much more effective in helping determine the exact location of a mobile device. Earlier this year, I wrote about how the Orlando Airport is using Wi-Fi and beacons to change the experience of the tens of millions of travelers who pass through the airport annually.

However, managing beacons can be a headache, as they need to be monitored for battery life, power settings, software versions, etc. Aruba now offers a beacon sensor that combines a Wi-Fi client and BLE radio to automatically discover existing beacons, and then enables them to be managed from a cloud-based platform. The sensor is a small device that plugs into an AC outlet or can be powered over USB that will automatically discover all of the beacons over any vendor’s Wi-Fi network. The entire beacon environment can then be viewed in a single pane of glass, where administrators can see which ones need new batteries, require a software update, or necessitate some other maintenance.

Aruba also offers a beacon analytics platform to better understand who is connected, the location of the users, and the type of device being used. This can help businesses improve interactions and make the digital experience for the mobile user better. Key verticals for this are retail establishments, hotels, entertainment venues, schools, hospitals, or anywhere there is a high number of transient individuals.

Lastly, Aruba is announcing a formal developer partnership program that is long overdue. Aruba has an excellent mobile application platform called Meridian that enables developers to build location-based applications. To date, Meridian has been used by a handful of corporate developers and technology partners in an ad hoc manner. Aruba is creating a developer program to make Meridian available to any independent software vendor (ISV) or custom application development agency (CADA). The potential of mobile applications will only be fulfilled when the creative juices of a community can get together and share ideas, similar to how Windows or browser-based applications exploded in the past. The developer program should greatly accelerate Aruba’s journey to becoming a mobile platform vendor, rather than being a manufacturer of wireless infrastructure. At launch, Aruba announced a number of software partners, including Im-pek-a-ble, Forge, VenueNext, and Robin.

The world is rapidly shifting to a digital, mobile-first era, and leveraging the wireless network to be a platform for the mobile experience is a key step in capitalizing on the opportunities created by this transition. Aruba’s enhancements to its mobile engagement solution should enable its customers to make this transition rapidly.

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