Aruba to prioritise SASE, private 5G, data-center networking

Aruba to prioritise SASE, private 5G, data-center networking

The acquisition of Athonet will help HPE Aruba expand its private 5G network options

Credit: Dreamstime

Aruba Networks plans to prioritise development of a short list of key networking technologies – including data-center switching, private 5G, and secure access service edge (SASE) – that it finds are top of mind for enterprise customers.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s network subsidiary is fresh off a successful first quarter that saw revenue climb 31% year over year. Aruba general manager Phil Mottram attributes the record revenue in large part to the company’s Intelligent Edge strategy, which includes technologies to help customers adopt and manage network and application resources.

“We have an aggressive plan in place to grow data-center networking, and in particular, you’ll hear a lot about the CX 10000, where we are ramping up activities around that,” Mottram said. 

Available since early 2022, the CX 10000 is a top-of-rack, L2/3 data-center box with 3.6Tbps of switching capacity. 

One of the most intriguing aspects of the CX 10000 is that it includes an integrated programmable data processing unit (DPU) from Pensando, now part of AMD, that helps eliminate the need for separate appliances to handle low latency traffic, security and load balancing, for example.

The DPU can support software-defined cloud, compute, networking, storage and security services that run in combination with Aruba’s AOS-CX network operating system. 

That combination can provide wire-rate routing and switching with L4-L7 stateful software services including firewall, DDoS, encryption, network address translation, load balancing, network telemetry, and automation that can be applied to widely distributed workloads.

Aruba’s 5G plans include Athonet technology

Private 5G for enterprise use is another area of focus for Aruba. 

“In the short term, you have enterprise customers, some of whom have very specific use cases, who are interested in taking private 5G and using it in outdoor applications. 

And in some instances, depending on the Wi Fi settings, 5G can deliver eight times better coverage than Wi-Fi outdoors,” Mottram said. “Now that doesn't mean it's a no brainer, because right now private 5G could be at least eight times more expensive because there's less scale in the market.”

For some customers, however, having one 5G device to cover a warehouse versus having eight Wi-Fi devices is potentially a significant benefit, Mottram said. 

“We’ve also had interest from industries with factories that deploy lots of speedy robots that look at private 5G as an option.”

Aruba plans to expand its private 5G options, and HPE this month announced plans to buy private cellular technology maker Athonet for an undisclosed amount. 

Athonet’s goal is to speed and simplify private 5G deployments. Among other packages, it offers CBRS and 5G starter kits that include Athonet mobile packet core, SIM cards, a choice of radio, and other components needed to set up private cellular networks quickly.

Athonet technology will expand HPE’s 5G portfolio, which includes private 5G equipment integrated with its Aruba Wi-Fi gear so that customers can choose to use the technology that best meets their enterprise requirements. 

HPE said it will offer Athonet private 5G as part of its overarching Green Lake edge-to-cloud service platform and bundle Wi-Fi and private 5G into a monthly subscription plan that requires no capital outlay by customers.

“In the 3-to-5-year term, there will be a broad push from carriers and other players like Intel and Qualcomm to grow private 5G use,” Mottram said. “So we expect the overall ecosystem to gather momentum.”

Single-vendor SASE part of the plan

Another area Aruba expects big things from is SASE. 

HPE Aruba made a significant move this month to boost its SASE offerings by buying Axis Security and its security service edge (SSE) platform. Aruba will use that security technology to bolster its own SD-WAN and SASE offerings.

Aruba’s SASE portfolio includes technologies from the SD-WAN package it acquired from Silver Peak in 2020 for $925 million. 

Aruba is building toward offering a so-called single-vendor SASE platform, which allows enterprise customers to buy a SASE package from one vendor rather than mix and match pieces from multiple vendors, Mottram said. 

“More tightly integrating security into the SASE package is key, and small to midsized customers are looking for that support,” Mottram said. “Buying a single, integrated solution from one provider is where we think the opportunities are growing.”

Gartner says the single-vendor SASE trend is a growing one, and that by 2025, one-third of new SASE deployments will be based on a single-vendor SASE offering, up from 10% in 2022. By 2025, 65% of enterprises will have consolidated individual SASE components into one or two explicitly partnered SASE vendors, up from 15% in 2021, the research firm predicts.

Aruba’s AI ambitions

No trends discussion would be complete these days without a look at what the vendor is doing with AI. Aruba offers AI and AIOps support via Aruba Central, the vendor’s core cloud-based management platform, and its Edge Services Platform (ESP), which can analyse telemetry data generated from Wi-Fi or network switching gear and use it to automatically optimise connectivity, discover network problems and secure the overall edge environment.

“What we are seeing enterprise customers looking to AI for is quickly finding problems in configuration or the network and flagging those issues but not automatically fixing them,” Mottram said. 

“I think we are on an evolution with AI, and that ultimately customers will end up trusting the AI platform to make the change and avoid a problem in the network.”

“What customers will see from us is some quite big enhancements and changes to the way the platform looks and feels, but we're comfortable with the capabilities it's got for now,” Mottram said.

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