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Senior Editor

Aruba service overlays existing infrastructure with virtual networks

News Analysis
Mar 29, 20224 mins
Network Management SoftwareNetworking

Aruba NetConductor offers a centralized management platform that provides policy and security enforcement across the LAN and WAN.

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Aruba Networks is expanding its Edge Services Platform to better manage and automate the operation of far-flung distributed enterprise networks.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s network subsidiary rolled out NetConductor, a cloud-based service that Aruba says will help enterprises centrally manage the security of distributed networks while simplifying policy provisioning and automating the orchestration of network configurations in wired, wireless, and WAN infrastructures.

NetConductor is a service delivered by Aruba Central, the vendor’s core cloud-based management platform and works by delivering an EVPN, VXLAN-based network overlay across a customer’s wired and wireless networks offering a much more unified and simplified view of the network to the networking team, according to Larry Lunetta, vice president of wireless local area network and security solutions marketing at Aruba.

“The idea is that NetConductor finds all of the networking components, and users can define policies and security in the fabric wizard—hit a button, and the whole environment is created and visible,” Lunetta said. “NetConductor presents a much more unified and simplified view of the network to the networking team, and a way to propagate pervasive security policies across the network as well.” 

The fabric wizard sets up a graphically driven user workflow that lets the networking team setup these segments, stitch them together in a way that makes sense from a business and an IT perspective, and with a single click, propagate the configuration information to the infrastructure, Lunetta said. 

With NetConductor IT then has a means to link pods of connectivity, using a set of protocols including EVPN and VXLAN.  Traditional VLAN networks have around 4,000 addressable network segments, whereas VXLAN has 16 million, so customers can grow their networks more easily, Lunetta said.

The system also enforces traffic segmentation so an organization can set up security policies and control and protect resource access.

Experts said NetConductor could be an attractive option for enterprises looking to get a handle on widely distributed environments.

“Organizations around the globe are looking to enhance their network management to reflect the new realities of their enterprise networks. Enterprise networks today must extend beyond traditional campus and branch locations to a variety of edge locations, including remote and hybrid workers, as well as other endpoints where users and devices connect to the network,” said Brandon Butler, a research manager with IDC’s network infrastructure group.

“Meanwhile, the scale and complexity of enterprise networking continues to increase with more users and devices on the network accessing higher bandwidth applications,” Butler said. “In response, enterprises are looking for management platforms that help ease operations, while consolidating management across wired and wireless LAN, and integrated management of the LAN and WAN.”

NetConductor aims to help solve these problems with a centralized management platform that provides policy and security enforcement across the LAN and WAN, using the common industry protocols EVPN and VXLAN that can overlay existing network infrastructure, Butler said.

“This is an important advancement for Aruba as it allows for overlay policy enforcement to extend beyond role-based access controls the company has had with its ClearPass platform, and creates an ability for customers to create a dynamic segmentation overlay that stretches across a network fabric,” Butler said. 

In addition to the NetConductor service, Aruba announced self-locating Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E indoor access points to simplify how organizations capture indoor location data and communicate information to mobile devices or applications.

Aruba Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E APs with built-in GPS receivers and intelligent software enable accurate, automated WLAN deployments. Aruba’s self-locating WLAN APs provide zero-touch determination of AP location, continuously validate and update location, and provide a set of universal coordinates that may be transposed to a floor map. 

“With GPS built-in, customers can automatically self-locate access points, where the previous method was a manual survey, and if APs move, you have to go back and look again. But if they move in our system, they’re automatically relocated on the map, Lunetta said. “We can use data gathered from the APs to grow new business applications through a set of protocols and Open Locate interfaces because we can broadcast location information to Bluetooth and WiFi for other apps to use,” Lunetta said.

Aruba Central NetConductor services are available for early access now and will be generally available in July. Aruba Wi-Fi 6/6E access points include self-location and are currently shipping.