Aruba announces campus core switch for the digital enterprise

The Aruba 8400 switch’s programmability, automation, monitoring and analytics capabilities allows customers to spend more time working on strategic initiatives

Aruba 8400 switch
Credit: Aruba Networks

Digital transformation has been a hot topic with IT and business leaders over the past few years. In fact, it’s rare for me to talk to any organization, regardless of size, and not talk about the challenges of going digital.

One of the interesting elements of this shift is that it makes the network significantly more important than it ever has been. Most of the technologies used to fuel digitization, such as IoT, cloud and mobility are all network centric in nature, so the network has a direct impact on a company’s ability to become a digital organization.

In today’s rapidly changing business climate, competitive differentiation revolves around speed, and that requires a highly dynamic and scalable IT foundation. However, a business can only be as agile as the least agile component, and that today is the network. Software-defined networks (SDNs) have helped transform the data center and SD-WANs the wide-area network, but what about the campus? That seems to have been forgotten about through this transition to a software-defined world.

The fact is campus networks are going through a profound change. New devices, cloud services and mobile workers are creating new traffic patterns that are more chaotic in nature and more complicated to operate. Network managers need increased agility, visibility and insights to understand the environment better, automate tasks and quickly resolve problems. 

Aruba 8400 series brings the benefits of SDN to the campus network

This week at HPE’s Discover event, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company, announced its new 8400 campus core and aggregation switch series, which is arguably the first network switch designed to bring the benefits of software-defined networking to the campus network. As one would expect, the heart of the product is the software. The ArubaOS-CX operating system is designed specifically for the modern network that needs to support IoT, cloud services and more mobile workers.

The 8400 Switch series is Aruba’s first campus core switch, and it is a beast of a product that offers carrier-class reliability and a whopping 19.2 Tbps of throughput. The 8400’s extensible fabric enables seamless upgrades, so customers can start small and then scale up as more devices are added and the bandwidth needs increase. The virtual switching framework (VSF) with dual chassis scales up to 512 10-GigE, 128 40-GigE or 96 100-GigE Ethernet ports.

The hardware specs are impressive, particularly for a campus product, but it’s the operating system that enables greater automation and simplification of many of the complex tasks that are time consuming and hold network engineers back from working on more strategic initiatives.

Key features of the ArubaOS-CX:

  • Early detection of problems. The OS includes a feature called the Aruba Network Analytics Engine that gives IT operations the ability to monitor network, system, application and security activities. The analytics engine has an integrated time-series database that uses event correlation to analyze trends and spot anomalies that can predict issues that can indicate an application problem or security breach.
  • Faster problem resolution. Historically, network managers worked in a reactive mode. A problem occurs, a user calls the help desk, and network operations begin the troubleshooting process with archaic tools like SNMP and CLI commands. The operating system offers policy-based integration with other network monitoring, performance and security tools to quickly isolate the source of problems for rapid resolution.
  • Programmable switch. The Aruba 8400 is fully programmable and loaded with RESTful APIs for almost every function and has a built-in Python interpreter. These allow for easy integration into other infrastructure and business applications. Infrastructure must become more programmable to support an increasingly digital world, and Aruba has provided a rich set of APIs to increase the business relevance of the network.
  • Visibility into IoT. ZK Research shows that 50 percent of businesses have little to no knowledge of what IoT devices are connected to the network. Legacy networks do not provide the necessary tools to understand what devices are connected and where they are. The new Aruba Switch series has on-box, real-time and historical data that can be integrated with other Aruba products, such as AirWave, Niara and ClearPass, for better visibility into the “things” that are connected and then correlate the behavior to spot a breach and quarantine it to minimize the impact. 

Network complexity is burying engineers today, as they cannot keep up with the demands placed on them using manual processes. If IT is going to become a strategic partner to the business, it needs to automate many of the time-consuming, day-to-day tasks that consume up to 80 percent of their time.

The new Aruba 8400 certainly boasts impressive technical numbers, but it’s the switch’s programmability, automation, monitoring and analytics capabilities that will allow customers to spend less time keeping the lights on and more time working on strategic initiatives.

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