Aruba has adopted a strategy of making acquisitions and investing in R&D to realize this vision. Alain Carpentier, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales, Aruba speaks with CRN’s Abhishek Raval
What kind of a network, Aruba wants to build for the customers?
We are investing a lot in the network management space to simplify the life of the enterprise and the end users. Another area of importance is building an analytics layer in the backbone of the system, which does the critical proactive analytics work, for example, the retail players are asking us to have solutions that will not only run their network and provide wifi but also generate business. The analytics layer in such scenarios become critical business generator for physical stores. By understanding the customer behavior.
We have large universities in the US and Europe as our customers. The GenY is highly demanding, which requires a easy to use but robust network connection. A major airport in India runs on Aruba network. The security cameras combined with the high availability of the wifi and the retail stores inside the airport requires a strong network. The manufacturing floors are becoming increasing digital. We have many customers in that space too. Including one of the world’s largest EV company.
Healthcare is another strong area for us. The objective is to empower the workforce to provide better patient care. Apart from acquiring companies, we also have an organic development strategy. The network we are trying to build has three different domains. Software Defined Networking (SDN) is the first domain, which has a mix of domains involved. The network management piece is managed by the cloud element of the network. It provides the required depth of network visibility. Analytics is also provided to understand the network behavior.
‘Central’ is a solution, that helps organizations with large number of branches. AirWave network management helps to get a granular insight inside the network with a a major thrust on networks with a large base of mobile devices and apps.
Which companies have you acquired to supplement your offerings?
We have acquired Rasa Networks. It’s a ML startup but more on the network management side. The company enables companies with huge networks to understand the network behavior. It learns the network usage and pattern over a period of time. The customers can accordingly take proactive decision to provision resources.
Our acquisitions, apart from allowing the customers to take proactive decisions; they will also make the networks more autonomous and going a step ahead towards auto repairing, during any breakdowns.
Niara, the ML based security startup was acquired to bring a robust security layer to the solution.
According to the latest Gartner networking critical capabilities report, Cisco has been beaten by Aruba in all the six areas. What’s your viewpoint on how Aruba was able to overtake Cisco?
There are two parts of the report – Gartner vision and the customer market vision – these reports are prepared on the basis of market sourced feedback. Aruba has been upgraded in the Gartner’s magic Quadrant subsequent to the merger with HPE.
In the past, we have been close to Cisco but for the first time, Aruba has overtaken Cisco. It is linked to the work done in the last year. The company has merged the wired, wireless portfolios alongwith the ML and security capabilities of an acquired company, viz. Niara. Thus Gartner appreciated the entire solution portfolio that emerged out of this integration.
The vision is to make the solution in line with the expectations of how the customer wants it to be. To be on the same page with the customer on transforming the workplace based on the branch environment in the digital world. This can be achieved by making it easy to manage the wired, wireless, management platform and security. The six capabilities revolve around these areas. Aruba’s constant focus is to bring innovation in these aspects by the R&D efforts.
While Aruba may not be in the top in terms of market share, Gartner has acknowledged our vision on how the customer is thinking about the future of networking solutions and that we are investing in the right areas.
What is the Importance of behavior analytics-based attack detection? How does it differ from a traditional enterprise security system?
Enterprise mobility solutions have triggered the requirement of borderless networks. Aruba helps companies to transform the workplace in this environment. It applies to an office, a manufacturing place, a retail store, etc.
Historically, in the absence of mobility solutions, when the risk to the network was from outside; with the proliferation of mobility devices, the risk now is also from inside the network – with the possibility of malicious devices or users entering the network premise.
Aruba provides tools to prevent or neutralize these risks, which may emanate from inside. It is difficult to manually detect the risks from the swamp of mobility and IoT devices on the network. Aruba acquired Niara, the California based machine learning and AI based Security Company and integrated the features into the solution. The behavior based analytics capabilities added to the solution makes the borderless network of companies more secure and allow them to extend the digital footprint and also further expand into acquiring more IoT based solutions. Moreover, the ML based security features from Niara also makes the solution to work on any network. For that matter, it works seamlessly on the Cisco platform too.
This combined with our Network Access Control (NAC) solution, ClearPass, firmly sets the enterprise to operate on a end to end network infrastructure with the mobile first environment. ClearPass provides a policy formulation platform, available for IoT devices too.
The solution fits well into a smart city setup where the size and scale of technology adoption and as a direct corollary, the risks are huge. Especially in a highly IoT based environment.
Which cities in India is Aruba working with?
We are in the final stages of installation for Mumbai comprising of thousands of access points. There are many villages in North India, where we are actively involved in technology implementations.
What’s your channel partner strategy and how do you plan to engage with them?
Our plan is to invite partners to develop platform as a service for edge networking for our solution. The customers with many branches and a huge number of franchisees would not like to have an IT person for every entity. The partners can design an as-a-service model with specific SLAs and features with a pay per use model. We see a huge demand for such services.
We are open to help the partners to build such platforms. We would like the partners to take this up rather doing native investments.
HPE and Aruba’s partner programme has been merged to help the partners provide components to our customers in the areas of security, management, mobility and wireless.
We are also having bigger SIs like Wipro, TCS, HCL work with us including intermediate SIs and also regional distributors to reach out to the huge SMB businesses in India.