Aruba Pushes Mobile Technology for the Digital Workplace

In the second day of the company's user conference, Aruba officials show off some capabilities designed to enable mobile-first businesses.

Aruba meeting

LAS VEGAS—Aruba Networks officials for several years have been talking about the changing workplace and the role of the wireless network in enabling workers who increasingly are looking for a more open, mobile, flexible and highly collaborative environment in which they are not tied to desks.

Offering the tools to help drive this evolving digital workplace has been a focus here this week at the company's Atmosphere 2016 user and partner conference. Attendees are getting a glimpse of what Aruba has coming down the line that not only ensures WiFi connectivity, but also addresses such areas as data insights, security and collaboration.

Aruba two years ago identified what they call GenMobile, the next generation of employees coming into the workforce. They're helping to fuel the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend—using a variety of devices for both their personal and work lives. They’re mobile, expect always-on connectivity and want their work environments to bend to their preferences.

The rapidly evolving workplace is creating multiple challenges for businesses, from finding ways to quickly and securely onboard these multiple mobile devices onto the network to creating a collaborative, flexible environment that the GenMobile workers are demanding. At the same time, new IT capabilities are enabling businesses to leverage mobile technologies to get better insight into their employees and customers as well as into their own networks.

"This has been a big change," Keerti Melkote, Aruba's co-founder and CTO, said in an interview with eWEEK, adding that businesses are looking for help in creating these new environments. "It's been dramatic. … There's no template for the open office, so they're getting pretty creative."

As the show here got underway, Aruba announced a range of new and enhanced products, from hardware like switches and wireless access points (APs) to new software features in such offerings as AirWave and ClearPass. During his keynote address March 9, Melkote offered more than 2,000 attendees a deeper look at some new features that will be launching over the next several months.

Many are designed to drive what the CTO calls the "contextual network." With the rise of mobile computing, BYOD and the Internet of things (IoT), networks need to be more dynamic, agile and automated, able to adapt to who the user is, what device they're using, what applications they're running, where they are, and other pieces of information, and then adapt again when all that changes, Melkote said.

"Nuances have to be picked up by the network," he told eWEEK.

The contextual data that the network holds can be used to improve the user experience and the performance and security of the network.

Aruba, which was bought last year by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, earlier this week introduced Clarity, a new software module within its AirWave network management offering that is designed to give network operators greater visibility into the access layer of the network—which includes users, devices and apps—to allow them to more proactively address potential problems before they impact the user experience. During Melkote's keynote, Aruba engineers demonstrated Clarity Synthetic, a feature that enables users to test WiFi networks before they're used and to address problems that arise.

School officials could use the technology to test their networks in the morning before students arrive for the day, and retail stores could test their networks before customers start coming in, they said. Clarity Live—the on-demand feature—will be available this month, while Clarity Synthetic will come later, they said.

Another technology coming later this year is AirMatch, a radio frequency (RF) management technology that uses data about an environment to automatically create a channel plan to ensure the best coverage. Melkote said Aruba was beta testing AirMatch at the Atmopshere show with 66 radios at the Cosmopolitan, where the event is being held.