The digital business era is highly competitive with companies looking for a way to one-up the competition. One way to do that is to gain new insights from data gathered from various systems.
A significant source of data that has been vastly underutilized is the network. Business today is network-centric, meaning companies should leverage network information to make better, more-informed decisions.
This week, Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, announced its Mobile First Platform that aims to provide more data and insights to improve applications and services. The platform is built on the company’s latest operating system, ArubaOS 8.0, which runs as a virtual machine on an off-the-shelf server appliance. The new OS provides rich, contextual information from the infrastructure via northbound APIs.
ArubaOS 8.0 has many benefits to its traditional buyer, as it simplifies changing or scaling the infrastructure through automation. One general rule of thumb that I’ve always advised IT to abide by is that if a solution is more complicated that the original problem, don’t do it. While that seems obvious, that’s not always the case with networking solutions. Generally, as a deployment gets larger and needs to scale, the operational side becomes more complex, so it’s good to see Aruba focusing on simplifying the management overhead.
Making apps smarter
More important, the new OS is aimed at application developers, as it enables greater programmability of Aruba infrastructure with capabilities to access information from the network in real time. In a sense, what Aruba has done is modularize its controller functionality so developers can use pieces of it to make apps smarter.
For example, ecosystem partner SkyFii uses contextual information available in the OS to help businesses analyze and visualize customer behavior. Aruba’s Analytics and Location Engine (ALE) has made contextual data available regarding devices, applications and location to let SkyFii customers, such as retailers, engage with shoppers better with targeted and personalized advertising.
As part of the new OS, Aruba also made several enhancements and improved third-party integration capabilities to its mobile access ClearPass software. ClearPass Extensions simplify the process of integrating cloud-hosted technology services into ClearPass. Aruba partners can drop their own software into the Aruba service and make it available via an API. Customers and developers can leverage these services to automate mobile workflows. For example, the security posture of a connected device can be checked using Intel Security McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator. Other examples of available ClearPass Extension services are multi-function authentication from Kasada and automation of guest Wi-Fi access using Envoy and Sine.
Also as part of this release, the Aruba Mobile First Platform brings advanced Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) analytics capabilities to the Meridian Mobile App Platform. Dwell time monitoring has been available for some time, but the new Meridian Goals feature gathers insights and provides information to marketing and business teams about the success or failure of engagement campaigns through detailed reports. Without it, businesses would need to sift through massive amounts of data and reports to understand the results of an engagement campaign.
The importance of turnkey solutions like this can’t be understated. In a world where speed means everything, businesses cannot take months or even weeks to understand whether their campaigns were successful.
Aruba also added a location sharing feature into Meridian. Workers or visitors to a venue that run a Meridian-enabled application can share their physical location with colleagues or friends. Hospitals could use this to enable clinicians to locate specific doctors, or students could track down each other on large campuses. There are hundreds of other business and personal use cases.
Aruba Central improved
One more notable announcement from Aruba is the enhancements to Aruba Central, its subscription-based, cloud-hosted network service. Aruba has added a managed services portal to its multi-tenant cloud, enabling resellers to quickly create their own branded managed services.
Aruba reseller partners or even customers can add Central to their portfolio by integrating it into their systems through APIs. Aruba Central also includes several new capabilities, such as predictive visibility for Wi-Fi health and Wi-Fi analytics, as well as a mobile application for IT to deploy wired and WAN routing infrastructure with zero touch.
Aruba, like many IT solution providers, is trying to position itself as a platform, but many vendors are a platform only for their own products. Aruba’s new OS enables a broad ecosystem of partners, as well as customers, to easily build mobile-enabled applications on top of the Aruba foundation. Networking is about more than connectivity, and Aruba’s Mobile First platform should allow the company to have a strong play with businesses looking to take advantage of digital transformation.