HPE Aruba: Wi-Fi 7 Launch Lays ‘The Foundation’ To Power Advanced AI, IoT Services

HPE Aruba Networking is unveiling its first line of Wi-Fi 7-capable access points. But the new products are differentiated in the wireless market for several reasons, none of which are related to the Wi-Fi 7 standard, according to the vendor.

The latest HPE Aruba Networking 730 Series Campus access points (APs), in addition to their competitive connectivity strength for enterprise and large-venue use cases, also boast integrated network security and location-based services to meet the increasing demands of AI and IoT requirements. The company is calling it “Wi-Fi 7 plus,” said Larry Lunetta, vice president of product and community marketing for HPE Aruba.

“The message here is that Wi-Fi 7 is the foundation … but you don’t require Wi-Fi 7 to deliver all the value. That’s where the idea of Wi-Fi 7 plus comes in. We’ve built these APs with the idea that customers will get innovation now while they become future-ready,” Lunetta said.

“These access points have a role in not only networking for AI, but also AI for networking,” he added, touching on Juniper Networks’ CEO Rami Rahim’s own take that the industry is just scratching the surface with AI networking.

[Related: Juniper Networks CEO: HPE-Juniper Combo Will Clear ‘Cluttered’ AI Networking Space]

Access Points As An ‘On-Ramp’ to AI

HPE Aruba, an 18-time Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Wired and Wireless LAN Infrastructure alongside Juniper Networks, said that its new product line “significantly differentiates” the company from its networking rivals that have already brought to market Wi-Fi 7-capable access point technology.ADVERTISEMENT

The latest technology is the culmination of the idea that started with an access point having only one mission, Lunetta said. “Over time, we’ve continued to build in other solutions that the access points support, and I think this is sort of the pinnacle of this idea that the access point is now a mission-critical IT resource,” he said.

HPE Aruba’s leadership in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report highlights the fact that the vendor has “expanded the mission” of the AP, he said.

The new Wi-Fi 7 AP product family offers up to 30 percent more capacity for wireless traffic than rival access points because of HPE Aruba’s patented ultra tri-band hardware technology, which helps its APs make full use of both the 5GHz and 6GHz bands at the same time, without interfering with each other and without the customer having to sacrifice part of either spectrum to avoid interference, Lunetta said.

Perhaps most timely is the AP product line’s tie-in to HPE’s larger AI strategy. The APs can connect IoT devices organizations are deploying all over—and at the edge—of the network, including sensors. The next step is for businesses to efficiently collect, secure and use that data not only to serve up real-time business insight, but to train and activate their own AI models, Lunetta said.

“If you think about the role of IoT in building AI data lakes, this gives the customer the opportunity to capture that data very efficiently and move it via the signals they get out of the AP to where it needs to go,” he said. “The better the data lake, the better the GenAI .… IoT not only drives business processes, but it is now an on-ramp to AI for the organization.”

IoT, Security Features

The new product line contains a wealth of new features, including wider support for IoT protocols in the form of dual dedicated Bluetooth and Zigbee radios for high-density IoT environments and integrated, non-permanent external antennas that HPE Aruba said have been designed for challenging radio frequency environments.

Lunetta said that the new APs are also benefiting from enhanced zero trust security. The APs include HPE Aruba Networking Central Client Insights for greater IoT visibility and automated Dynamic Segmentation to deliver role-based access for users and IoT devices. Also included is link level encryption, or MACsec capabilities, which extend wired data protection to the AP. There is also a personal wireless network mode that offers end users the ability to self-serve in specific environments, such as college campuses, under the control of the security team and the organization’s security policies, Lunetta said.

“If you are heavy into IoT [and] you want to do processing on the access point, or that you want to improve your security, all of those use cases will drive why a partner should offer this to a customer,” he said.

The services that HPE Aruba is supporting with the new AP series are going to benefit customers of all sizes, said Neil Anderson, vice president of cloud and infrastructure solutions for HPE Aruba partner World Wide Technology. Specifically, the use of the ultra tri-band hardware technology, for getting the most of the 5GHz and 6GHz bands at the same time, is compelling, he said.

“[HPE Aruba] tends to be really good in the outdoor and industrial space and the manufacturing environment,” he said, adding that the new APs would be a good fit for customers with high-throughput requirements.

At the same time, many customers and partners are curious to see how Juniper’s enterprise networking portfolio will come together with HPE Aruba’s robust wireless networking suite, Anderson said. Juniper Mist, he said, has been gaining “a lot of mindshare” with WWT customers.

“That industrial world, that’s not where [Juniper] Mist has focused,” he said. “I can kind of see them merging the best of Aruba’s APs in those spaces in the Mist cloud.”

The new AP product family can be managed by MSPs or end customers via the popular, cloud-based HPE Aruba Networking Central platform, which eliminates the need for an IoT network overlay. The product family can be acquired via subscription as HPE Aruba continues to increase the range of its Networking-as-a-Service portfolio to interested partners and end customers, Lunetta said.

The new series will be generally available globally in July 2024, according to HPE Aruba.

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