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Aruba introduces a simplified NaaS offering

News Analysis
Apr 25, 20235 mins
HPENetwork Management SoftwareNetworking

Agile NaaS brings streamlined provisioning; Aruba Central gets better visibility, performance features.

Planning / strategy / management  >  Nurturing growth / scale / expansion

Aruba Networks has upgraded its cloud-based Aruba Central network-management package to support better control of and visibility into enterprise assets.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s network subsidiary also rolled out a new network-as-a-service, Agile NaaS, aimed at streamling the process of choosing network infrastructure components available through the serivcethat that fit customers’ business needs.

First introduced on 2014, Aruba Central is the vendor’s flagship network management package that supports device onboarding, network configuration, health monitoring, and troubleshooting as well as intrusion detection and prevention services for campus, branch, remote, data center, and IoT wired and wireless networks.

To that package the company has added a more visual interface and features including new intelligent-assurance indicators that alert admins of network and device problems in real time. Assurance metrics such as client experience and device health are derived from correlations across the network stack spanning access, LAN, services, WAN, and application layers offering improved visibility and reporting capabilities.

The company is also adding new AIops features that help operators more quickly discover problems and fix them. Yet another piece provides a point-in-time view of the network that allows recovery in minutes to a specific point prior to an issue.

One goal of the new featurs is to help enteprises that face skills shortages troubleshoot more efficiently. “The networking teams have had to deal with skill shortages and resource issues, and deal with the huge amounts of complex data their networks are handling and they are juggling all that in a very threatening security environment,” said Larry Lunetta, vice president of wireless local area network and security solutions marketing at Aruba.

“When you think of these complex, highly distributed networks, understanding what normal operation is very difficult to do that manually.  Aruba Central establishes what’s normal operation quickly and now uses AI and the other upgrades to quickly determine network problems,” Lunetta said.

“On the security side, is we automatically see and fingerprint everything that’s on the network. When it’s a user and their phones, that’s pretty easy. But with IoT devices, that’s a big challenge. Up to 25% of all things connected to the network generally aren’t seen by the IT teams.”

AI-Ops enhancements like the ones that HPE is making are critical for campus network expansion, said Siân Morgan, research director with the Dell’Oro Group.

“In developed economies, there are fewer and fewer greenfield opportunities in which to sell Wireless LAN connectivity. The next problem to tackle is simplifying the installation and ongoing management of IT networks,” Morgan said.

“To expand the market, service providers and vendors need to gain scale [and] manage more networks with fewer resources and make advanced network management features more accessible to a broader range of enterprises. In the same way that IaaS and PaaS broadened the accessibility of compute resources, AI-Ops will broaden enterprises’ access to advanced network management features.”  

The overarching idea behind Aruba Central is to help and simplify the enterprise network operators and administrators experience, according to Brandon Butler, research Manager with IDC’s Network Infrastructure group. 

“The enhancement that provides new ways of getting insights into networking deployments, including both across different types of networks and at different points in time, will help with troubleshooting. This is important as organizations pursue more integrated management of their wired and wireless LANs, and as they look to incorporate management of their SD-WAN, cloud and remote worker connectivity too,” Butler said. 

“Another important enhancement provides more proactive management of the network. The platform uses device-health and client-experience indicators to more quickly recognize when there is a problem on the network, identify the root cause of it, and provide actionable remediation recommendations,” Butler said.  

Agile NaaS

Agile NaaS includes design and development tools customers can use to design a network project up front and then offers a range of acquisition, deployment, and management models to build it out.

“The idea is that Agile NaaS helps organizations define their desired business outcomes at the start of a project and then develop an acquisition and consumption approach that fits their needs,” Lunetta said.  “There is a lot of confusion around what NaaS is and how it should be implemented and paid for, with some vendors pushing ‘one size fits all,’ model.  We avoid that idea.”

HPE is recognizing that different market tiers have different needs, said Dell’Oro’s Morgan.

Agile NaaS is different from HPE’s initial Intelligent Operations NaaS, which focused on very large enterprises interested in having HPE directly manage their IT networks, Morgan said. The down side is that wasn’t accessible to companies with smaller budgets, and it competed directly with HPE’s channel partners. “With Agile NaaS, HPE is packaging Aruba technology into easy-to-order functional service blocks which are billed in a recurring manner,” she said.

Aruba also wants to enable gradual adoption of NaaS models by making it easier to trial before deploying them more widely, IDC’s Butler said.  

“One recent finding from our research is that increasingly, decisions on whether to use a NaaS model are being made less by network operators, and increasingly by senior and C-level leaders,” Butler said. “So, Aruba’s enhancements to position NaaS across both networking teams and business leaders will be an important way to continue to grow this market.”

Aruba also rolled out a Network Policy NaaS service pack to handle network access control based on the Aruba ClearPass policy manager. The pack complements eight other service packs that typically include any hardware, software and support services all in one bundle. The previous packages included wired, wireless, and SD-Branch NaaS service packs.

  “These Service Packs are designed for their Managed Services Provider partners to purchase and then deliver Campus NaaS to enterprises,” Morgan said.  “This will give Aruba’s Enterprise Campus NaaS offer more scale in the broader market.”

Aruba announced Aruba Central and Agile NaaS at its Atmosphere conference this week. The products are available in Q4.