HPE branch architecture

Published: June 19th, 2018

LAS VEGAS – HPE announced new networking gateway hardware at its Discover conference on Tuesday, breaking new ground for its Aruba Wide Area Networking (WAN) portfolio with a Software-Defined Branch solution.

The SD-WAN combines an integrated cloud-managed dashboard, Aruba Central, for the networking gear, as well as wired and wireless hardware. The solution is meant to support enterprises that may have an IT team at headquarters, but not necessarily at its branch locations distributed in other geographies. The new SD-WAN capabilities are being released in new Aruba products – branch gateways and headend gateways.

“Customers have asked us to integrate SD-WAN with (Aruba Central),” says Lissa Hollinger, vice-president of product and solution marketing for Aruba. “It’s really becoming an unwieldy type of situation as customers look to simplify their distributed enterprise environments.”

Hollinger says that just as HPE channel partners serve as an extension of its salesforce today, they’ll be able to sell this new solution too. “It’s a very attractive solution to those that have been selling the centralized and Wi-Fi switching solutions,” she says. “You could really increase your foothold with those accounts.”

An Aruba infographic explains the drivers of software-defined WAN. See the full image here.

The Aruba gateways add to HPE’s software-defined architecture that it began building out in 2002 with servers and switches. Now that it’s seeing more customers struggle to see all the devices connected to their networks as mobile devices and IoT proliferate. “It’s incredible when we ask our customers if they know what is connected to their network and they don’t,” Hollinger says. With SD-WAN, those customers will be able to automate the enforcement of network policies across their various locations.

Aruba SD-Branch is promising a few specific benefits for customers:

  • Centralized management: provision and manage all wired and wireless connections inside a branch and make network changes without the need for on-site IT.
  • Integrated security: Aruba’s own integrated security helps enforce policy across branches. With Clearpass, policy management is enforced at the gateway level. The Aruba 360 security exchange partners can offer add-ons like cloud-based firewall and threat protection.
  • Quality of Service: Awareness of device, user, and application means that new QoS policies can be applied and LAN and WAN traffic prioritized as desired.

Installation is a cakewalk, Hollinger says, just connect the branch gateway to Ethernet and the Internet, and the gateway will connect with the cloud to download the appropriate template for its location. If that method of installation fails, then a mobile app can guide a non-technical user through the installation. The user just scans the barcode on the gateway and receives a notification when provisioning is completed. If all else failes, the customers’ central IT office may have to do a walk-through over the phone.

“This mitigates the need for sending out highly paid and technically certified IT staff to deploy it,” Hollinger says.

Aruba says that no upgrades are required to its access points or switches to integrate the new gateways into networks. The solution is integrated into the Aruba Central subscription, with licences applied to branch gateways at each site and the central headend gateway. Hardware prices start at $1,495 USD per gateway and subscriptions at $450 USD per gateway per year. The new solution ships in July for initial customers.