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Smartphone and iPad-crazy enterprises playing right into Aruba Networks' hands

CEO Dominic Orr on the new network edge, competing with Cisco and exploiting the cloud

By , Network World
November 18, 2010 04:13 PM ET

Network World - The influx of smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices into businesses is making many employees more productive, but Aruba Networks is seeing firsthand how much strain all of this newfound mobility is putting on the enterprise IT and security staffs that are its customers.  In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, IDGE Chief Content Officer John Gallant spoke with Aruba CEO Dominic Orr about the changing wired/wireless network architecture, competing with Cisco Systems, exploiting the cloud and the rise of 802.11n.

Read other interviews from this series.

You guys are having a great year financially (and just reported strong Q1 '11 numbers).  What's behind the success?

Three trends are working in our favor.  One is the workforce is getting more virtualized and mobile. Second is this whole explosion of more capable mobile devices people want to bring to work and a significant migration of enterprise application processing capabilities to those devices.  The third is this whole cloud computing concept where you're embedding your application servers into an always-on data center.

Those three trends are forcing one fundamental issue:  It is very hard to define what is the enterprise security boundary. It used to be so perimeter based and now it is very virtual. That whole movement across the enterprise is forcing a fundamental re-architecting of what we have built over the last decade and is one of the biggest driving forces for our business.

How are you seeing people fundamentally changing their network architecture as a result of these trends?

The end-to-end network is segregating into three subfields. 

First is the big battle between the titans in the data center trying to build what I call the system bus where everything is hanging off there and trying to kind of generalize the Ethernet -- 10G, 100G -- technology to build that data center. That is occupying a lot of the R&D energy of traditional powerhouses like Cisco and now HP.

The second battle is to upgrade the Internet backbone to support all this multimedia quality-of-service video, and that is really where big guys like Cisco, Juniper Networks, Ericsson and so on are playing. 

The third front is what we call the new edge.  As recently as five years ago, the edge of the network was defined simply by a high-quality managed Ethernet delivery to the desktop.  You put firewalls around that perimeter to protect those desktops and servers.  Then fast forward a bit, and what feeds traffic into this Ethernet is primarily a Windows-over-Intel platform.  But if you look into the trend currently and two years forward, you will see that stack is evolving into Android, Apple iOS, BlackBerry OS and so on, and underneath that is no longer x86, it is really all kinds of ARM processors.  Underneath that, nobody supports a native Ethernet stack anymore; it's all either licensed band wireless or unlicensed band wireless.  And with this kind of new connectivity, where is the secure access boundary?

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