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March 12, 2014

Aruba Mobility-defined Networks Accelerate Move to All-wireless Workplace

There is no denying or fighting certain inexorable trends causing disruption and creating opportunities for enterprises and their vendors around the world. The adoption of the cloud and pervasive use of mobile personal devices by Millennials and C-levels (who are increasingly using their personal devices to run their organizations) is accelerating the necessity and speed at which enterprises are moving creation of an “all-wireless workplace.” 

However, getting from where we are to the all-wireless workplace is complicated. Not only are there issues of radio coverage (where to put access points and how to optimize them for number of users, amount of traffic, quality of experience, access to power and communications infrastructure, etc.), making all of this secure, easy to administrate and transparent to end users pose major hurdles. 

For enterprises Wi-Fi, integrated with existing infrastructure capabilities and the macro cellular environment—for obvious reasons relating to cost, convenience, performance and security—is the preferred means for establishing the all-wireless workplace. It is why the introduction by wireless enterprise solutions provider, Sunnyvale, CA-based Aruba Networks (News  - Alert), of its Mobility-Defined Networks™ architecture and five new software solutions that leverage it, is noteworthy. 

Architecture built for mobility and interoperability with what you have

Aruba Mobility-Defined Networks architecture as Aruba’s Robert Fenstermacher, Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, explained to that the new architecture and functionality was built on four imperatives, “We wanted to make the environment stable, secure (i.e., not intrusive), simple to use and administrate, and smart. In addition, the workplace is rapidly being populated with what we call #GenMobile. They are digitally adept and wireless-centric. They are driving new demands on IT to enable them to be more productive. IT thus needs new or enhanced tools to accommodate GenMobile and C-level requirements that simultaneously allow them to have better visibility and control over the wireless workplace as it evolves, and are not intrusive or disruptive to users.”

With all of this in mind he added, as the figure below highlights, “The emphasis of the Mobility-Defined Network architecture is on middle layer software, and on giving IT that needed greater visibility and control without increasing costs of disrupting user behavior.”

Source: Aruba Networks

As a part of Aruba Mobility-Defined Networks for the all-wireless workplace, Aruba is delivering five new capabilities:

1)   Next-Generation Mobility Firewall

Using advanced deep packet inspection (DPI) the new Next-Generation Mobility Firewall enables IT to set granular role-based policies, quality of service and bandwidth contracts for more than 1,500 mobile applications, even when they are encrypted.

2) Interactive Unified Communications Dashboard

Aruba AirWave has been enahved to offer an advanced and intuitive user interface for visualizing and controlling Unified Communications (UC), like Microsoft Lync, over Wi-Fi. Aruba says, the new UC dashboard is the first tool of its kind for IT professionals to bring UC and network performance metrics together in one, simple, consolidated view.

3) ClearPass Exchange and Technology Partners

This capability automates security workflows. IT administrators can leverage a set of common language APIs and data feeds that allow ClearPass to automate workflows with almost any third-party IT and business system from Aruba Mobile Device management (MDM) partners like IBM, AirWatch and MobileIron. Aruba emphasizes that ClearPass integrates with the helpdesk systems to then automatically generate a ticket notifying security teams.

4) Auto Sign-On

Auto Sign-On enabled by ClearPass and ArubaOS, uses a workplace’s Wi-Fi login to automatically authenticate an employee into Single Sign-On (SSO) enabled applications, like SalesForce.com. Aruba Auto Sign-On can be easily integrated with existing SSO identity providers, like Okta or Ping Identity®, or used independently.

5) AirGroup, now for DLNA and UPnP

AirGroup, enabled by ClearPass and ArubaOS, is a capability that allows users to wirelessly share screens and stream media with Apple (News  - Alert) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) devices. It optimizes Wi-Fi performance and limits the view of available devices based on the employee’s role, location and time of day and is completely self-service.

“Our customers have found that the all-wireless workplace is easily afforded by rightsizing the network and redirecting IT investments,” said Keerti Melkote, Founder and Chief Technology Officer for Aruba Networks. “Aruba Mobility-Defined Networks enables IT departments to build intelligent and self-optimizing infrastructures where security actions are automated, performance is enhanced, and efficient workflows adapt to the dynamics of mobility. The resulting right-sized network reduces capital costs associated with the fixed wired infrastructure and delivers an integrated mobility experience that everyone can depend on.”

As Fenstermacher explained, “With the new capabilities we have solved two huge problems that have arisen with providing great unified communications (UC) experiences on mobile devices that are heavily reliant on Wi-Fi. The first is that IT can’t identify traffic and now they will be able to do so at a level of granularity that they have not had before. Second is giving IT the capability to better manage and doing so without degrading in any way, actually making it easier, the user experience.”

Along with the comprehensive list of enhancements, the best news for Aruba customers is that the new capabilities are free. Available immediately, the Next Generation Mobility Firewall is Included in policy enforcement firewall software license for ArubaOS 6.4, and the Interactive Unified Communications Dashboard is free with base OS for AirWave (News - Alert) 8.0  and will be available in May of this year. Also available now are the ClearPass Exchange with base OS for ClearPass 6.3, Auto Sign-On which is free with base OS for ArubaOS 6.4 and ClearPass 6.3, and  AirGroup for DLNA and UPnP which is also free with base OS for ArubaOS 6.4 and ClearPass 6.3. 

As smartphones and tablets continue their march of becoming the preferred devices for our professional as well as personal communications, and the way in which younger workers as well as management chooses for many if not most of their enterprise interactions, we are well on the way toward accelerating creation of a wireless workplace as a competitive advantage. 

Easing the concerns of IT and enhancing their ability to provide quality experiences while mitigating risks is paramount for accelerating wireless workplace adoption. Aruba has identified the obstacles that have held back faster adoption, and its new solutions under the Mobility-Defined Networks architecture is certainly something Aruba customers and the market are going to take a look at.

Finally, if you are interested, you might wish to have a view as to whether you current enterprise is optimized for being a wireless workplace Aruba has an interesting assessment tool you may wish to take for a spin. If nothing else it provides valuable food for thought.  

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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