Aruba Extends Enterprise Networks

The new Mobile Edge network allows mobile workers secure wireless access.

Aruba Networks unveiled on Monday a new architecture designed to securely connect mobile workers to VOIP and data networks from any location.

The Mobile Edge architecture effectively extends that edge of the network, analysts said, and holds promise for changing how enterprise networks are managed.

"This is a notable addition to the market, because it merges access methods into a single system," Gartner Inc. analyst Ken Dulaney said.

"Enterprises have traditionally thought about LANs and WANs and other networks as separate, but Aruba is trying to show that they can be seamless and unified, and thats good."

In a Mobile Edge network, wireless access becomes the dominant method for connecting to enterprise computing resources and communications.

The result is a reduction in the number of wired network ports, and lowered costs for organizational moves, adds and changes, according to Aruba.

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"This is how we think enterprise networks will be evolving," said Jon Green, Aruba senior product manager. "Users are demanding mobility, as we can see from how often people give out cell phone numbers even when theyve got a phone sitting on their desk. The same thing is happening in the data network."

A particularly significant feature of Mobile Edge is its identity-based security system, which unifies disparate methods for wired, wireless and remote access.

The inclusion of the system eliminates what used to be a roadblock in the industry, said Craig Mathias, founder of advisory firm Farpoint Group.

"Network managers shied away from looking for this type of solution because of security issues," he said. "But now that the issue is addressed, I think we can see this as the beginning of a trend where mobility is much more prevalent."

The introduction of Mobile Edge should help Aruba gain an edge over its behemoth competitors, Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks, but how quickly it can advance the market itself is a question, said Forrester Research Inc. analyst Ellen Daley.

"Aruba is a bit ahead of the times," she said. "Whether they continue to succeed, especially with Mobile Edge, will depend on if the market catches up to them. It could take some time for enterprises to see the value in what theyve developed."

Aruba may also be racing against time given consolidation in the market. Daley added, "Right now, theres just Aruba and Trapeze left in the same arena, so Aruba will have to get Mobile Edge into enterprises before the company is a target for acquisition."

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