Aruba adds NetConductor to ESP to target IoT, Edge

Aruba Networks is pumping up its Edge Services Platform (ESP) with new management capabilities and breakthroughs in location-based services to help enterprises go after edge and IoT opportunities.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has introduced Aruba Central NetConductor, a set of capabilities that let partners and enterprises define policies, automate network configurations in wired, wireless, and WAN infrastructures, and centralize the management of distributed networks, all without worrying about the underlying network construct, Aruba announced during its annual Aruba Atmosphere 2022 event.

The company also unveiled “industry-first” – self-locating indoor access points (APs) with built-in GPS receivers and Open Locate, a proposed new industry standard for sharing location information from an access point to a device, Scott Calzia, senior director of product management for Aruba, told CRN USA.

Aruba ESP is an intelligent architecture that is helping partners and end customers manage their increasingly complex wired, wireless, SD-WAN and security infrastructures. Aruba Central is the “heart” of the company’s flagship network management and analytics platform that sits inside Aruba ESP.

Aruba Central NetConductor will help simplify and automate network policy provisioning using AI, especially as enterprise networks today become more larger and more far-flung, Calzia said.

“We’ve seen an expanding number of [network] locations over the last several years but trying to build the network construct on that the overlay piece has been complicated,” he said.

With NetConductor, Aruba is trying to help enterprises and partners managing their customers’ environments extend policy out to a variety of locations, including the main campus environment and branch offices that typically have to be done individually. Central NetConductor can unify the policy definition, as well as the network provisioning and management within a single services platform – Aruba Central, Calzia said.

“[Previously,] I actually had to go define that network policy and I would have to use what I call the network construct – the IP addresses or MAC addresses to stitch everything together with Aruba Central,” he said. “With NetConductor, we’ve made it very simple in a graphical format to say: ‘I have defined a role for a set of employees. I defined a role for guests. And now I want to ensure that employees have access to a particular set of assets,’ and I can just drag and drop those together. Aruba Central itself, because it is part of the network provisioning/monitoring/management platform can actually automatically create that underlie network construct.”

Aruba Central NetConductor services are available for early access now and will be generally available in July, according to Aruba.

Also unveiled Wednesday were self-locating indoor access points – an “industry-first” innovation that pairs Aruba Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E APs with built-in GPS that replicates the success of GPS-based location services indoors, Calzia said. “There’s an emerging need for accurate, indoor location services,” he said, adding that outdoor location has been traditionally easier and more accurate thanks to cellular services that rely on GPS, a signal that can be distributed indoors.

Aruba’s self-locating WLAN APs provide determination of AP location while continuously validating and updating location. The APs can communicate a set of universal coordinates, including latitude and longitude with a meter of accuracy that can be transposed on any floor map, the company said.

Accurate location of the WLAN infrastructure gives businesses a fixed reference point that is shared using Open Locate. Businesses can use the universal coordinates for their IoT strategies and use cases such as improved asset tracking, safety and compliance, facility planning, and venue experience apps for end users, Aruba said.

The innovation makes the once “very manual” process of wireless deployment much more automated, Calzia said. “This process saves time, and it also removes any type of human errors or inaccuracies that might result. It actually improves or makes indoor location services much more usable for our customers, as well as our partners,” he added.

Aruba Wi-Fi 6/6E access points now include self-location and are currently shipping. GPS capabilities are included in existing Aruba Wi-Fi 6E access points, according to the company.

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