Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) subsidiary Aruba Networks has announced a new offering, called EdgeConnect Microbranch, designed to simplify the complexity of work-from-home networking for enterprises.\nThe COVID-19 pandemic has forced enterprises to change the way they use their networks as they had to support an increasing number of users and devices connecting from remote locations. During the pandemic the number of workers working remotely for enterprises jumped, reaching 72% of the total workforce, compared to just 38% before COVID hit, according to an IDC survey. The survey also showed that enterprises expect that more than half of their employees will work remotely in one way or another, indicating the need of a long-term shift in network architectures.\nSD-WAN and SASE for the home office\nAruba\u2019s new bundle, which is being offered as part of its networking infrastructure suite called Edge Services Platform (ESP), builds on the company\u2019s existing services to provide a remote office experience through remote access points (RAPs) by adding SD-WAN capabilities without the need of additional hardware on premises, the company said.\nThese SD-WAN capabilities \u2014 including policy-based routing, tunnel and route orchestration, SASE (secure access service edge) integration and enhanced WAN visibility \u2014 are designed to allow enterprises to mimic and offer a complete range of in-office and campus connectivity services to remote workers, with no gateway, agent, or new hardware required at the remote site, according to Aruba. The goal is to \u00a0 simultaneously increase productivity and security, the company said.\nWhile the policy-based routing function will allow enterprise IT teams to deliver application performance and security based on service-level agreements or type of users, the tunnel and route orchestration function, according to the company, allows enterprises to optimize network performance by choosing the best VPN tunnel for the task depending on the load and other factors.\nThe enhanced WAN visibility function is designed to allow IT teams to monitor remote locations and troubleshoot issues in a real-time manner while providing an eagle\u2019s eye view of utilization of network, latency, jitter and other connectivity issues.\nRouting capabilities secure application traffic\nAruba\u2019s EdgeConnect Microbranch adds more granular capabilities for network and IT workers to secure application traffic for remote workers via policy-based routing and advanced routing orchestration, according to Brandon Butler, IDC research manager for enterprise networks.\n"The SASE integration with ZScaler will speed organizations\u2019 time-to-value for building secure connections for remote workers as well,\u201d said Butler.\n\u201cWe\u2019ve seen many SD-WAN vendors, from Cisco\/Meraki to VMware\/VeloCloud and Palo Alto Networks, all come out with solutions that enable organizations to leverage SD-WAN capabilities to support remote workers. Merakis\u2019s Z3 and Palo Alto Networks\u2019 Okyo Garde are very similar to Aruba\u2019s solutions,\u201d he said.\nAruba\u2019s EdgeConnect Microbranch, generally available in March 2022 for any AP (access point) running Aruba10 OS with a Foundation AP License, is expected to help contact center workers in particular, Butler said.\n\u201cContact center workers need highly reliable connections that are secure for dealing with personally identifiable information. Other classes of workers we expect \u2018branch of one\u2019 architectures to support include developers, financial traders, telehealth workers and executives,\u201d Butler said.\n"Branch of one" architecture is a term used to describe new networks being planned post-pandemic that require or demand enhanced connectivity, security, and collaboration while offering an "office out of the box" managed via cloud.